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Woman sentenced in embezzlement case

September 14, 1998|By MARLO BARNHART

A Martinsburg, W.Va., woman who embezzled nearly $7,000 while working as office manager for the Hagerstown Surgical Clinic will spend the coming weekend in jail.

Tina Marie Martin, 39, of 307 N. Delaware Ave., pleaded guilty Monday to one count of felony theft in Washington County Circuit Court.

Washington County Circuit Judge Kennedy Boone sentenced Martin to two years in prison, but suspended all but the weekend in the Washington County Detention Center.

"You have already made the restitution ... that's a big factor," Boone said as he imposed the sentence. He said that and her previously clean criminal record led him to suspend most of the jail time.

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Martin told Boone she had held a similar job with another office and was hired by Doctors Stephen Sachs and Karl Riggle with good references.

But in November 1997, after a few months on the job, Martin began doubling the amount on the biweekly payroll checks she wrote to herself, according to court records.

In addition, several bank deposits were found to be missing through March of 1998 when an investigation was launched after an audit turned up irregularities, court records said.

Both doctors testified Monday, telling Boone they were upset about the number of hours it took to straighten out the situation and to define the loss at $6,949.82.

They said they also were concerned about possible repercussions from the Internal Revenue Service because of the impact on withholding records for the office.

"When I took this position, I never went into it with that in mind," Martin said. "It came out of desperation, was very stupid and out of character for me."

Martin's defense attorney, Tom DiGirolamo, told Boone that Martin has gotten the message and asked for probation before judgment, a request that was denied.

"She has been publicly humiliated and I know the doctors are upset with her," DiGirolamo said. "But she is seeking help for her problems dealing with money."

Boone didn't rule out modifying the sentence at a later date, perhaps adding 200 hours of community service. Other theft charges were dropped in exchange for a plea to felony theft.

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