Judge: 8 years for Buckley woman who's 'done a really good job at being a thief'

Judge: 8 years for Buckley woman who's 'done a really good job at being a thief'

URBANA — A Champaign County judge Wednesday called a Buckley woman who stole tens of thousands of dollars from the Champaign business where she worked "a thief, plain and simple."

"She's done a really good job at being a thief," Judge Tom Difanis said of Kimberly Allen before handing her an eight-year prison sentence for her third theft conviction.

The 36-year-old woman pleaded guilty in June to felony theft for stealing about $144,000 from Martin One Source, a printing company at 808 N. Country Fair Drive, C, between Aug. 20 and Dec. 27, 2016.

Hall had worked there since February 2014.

Called to the stand by Assistant State's Attorney Joel Fletcher, Champaign police Detective Pat Kelly testified that he learned that Allen had set up a fraudulent vendor account to which she issued 38 checks that were cashed at a Rantoul bank by a man that Allen persuaded to do so by giving him part of the proceeds.

Adam Hall, 32, of Gilman is currently serving a 56-month prison sentence that Difanis handed down in June after he pleaded guilty to theft by deception for cashing the checks.

Allen and Hall were ordered to pay a total of $144,567 in restitution to Martin One Source and two insurance companies.

Kelly said he learned that Hall and Allen were splitting the proceeds about evenly, even though Allen had maintained that Hall got the majority of the cash.

Kelly also said that Allen told him in a January interview that she had a $1,000-a-day cocaine habit that she had been feeding between August and December with the stolen money but that she quit using cocaine without help in early January. Asked if he found that plausible, Kelly said no.

The detective said he found evidence that Allen bought two new appliances for her mother's home in Buckley.

Allen's mother, Cheryl Pritchett, testified that she bought the home in January with a federal rural development loan that did not require any money down to get financing. She said her daughter lived with her and that she got a new refrigerator and dishwasher in January.

On cross-examination by Assistant Public Defender Jamie Propps, Kelly said he also learned that Hall had bought equipment for his snow-removal business, including a salt spreader, salt storage container and salt, with cash he got from cashing the checks Allen had issued.

Kelly also said that Allen told him she had quit her cocaine habit cold turkey because she overdosed twice and the near-death experiences frightened her.

Fletcher also had business owner Charles Martin testify about the loss of funds at the company he started in 1989. Martin said he discovered the loss in January, after he discovered business was struggling during a time of year when it is historically good.

"Our business is very seasonal," said Martin, explaining that between January and mid-August, sales are low and income is down, but from mid-August to December, the company is typically "cash rich" as the majority of annual sales take place.

"It was devastating for us in a time of the year when we're usually getting a lot of cash. I was devastated because I trusted Kimberly so much. We were struggling," Martin said.

Martin said insurance covered some of his loss but he estimated he was still out about $76,000, an amount that caused him to lay off two employees and make another full-time employee a part-timer.

He said he had to take out a $150,000 bank loan to cover some company expenses and that he and his wife kicked in a "large sum" from their own assets as well.

Fletcher sought the eight-year sentence he had agreed to recommend when Allen pleaded guilty, even though she could have received up to 15 years.

"She was in a position of trust and she abused that trust. It's simply not credible that she was anything but the hub of the wheel of this scheme," Fletcher argued, calling Allen's remorse "a show."

Fletcher also was skeptical that Allen's theft was solely to support a cocaine habit.

"This is not somebody living hand to nose. It (the scheme) required the defendant to prepare months ahead," he said, noting that there was a delay in her getting the cash she was stealing.

Propps argued that Allen had taken responsibility for her actions by pleading guilty and that she had graduated from high school and was employed. She said Allen "suffered significant trauma at the hands of her father" that led to her substance-abuse and mental-health problems.

Propps argued that Allen should receive a sentence no greater than Hall.

"The evidence shows Hall is more involved than what he's saying. He has stuff to show for it. She has nothing to show. She snorted it all," said Propps, urging Difanis to consider boot camp.

A weeping Allen told the judge she has a child and she was sorry.

Difanis said it was clear that Allen had planned out her scheme and that any argument that Hall, a professional lawn mower, was the mastermind, "falls on deaf ears."

"She set up the accounts. She was testing the waters to see if she could get this done. As the checks began to clear, the amounts got larger and larger," Difanis said.

He noted that Allen's 2008 theft conviction from Iroquois County involved the theft of $12,000 from a business. Allen was ordered to repay that amount but has made only about $1,000 in restitution.

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msever595 wrote on September 21, 2017 at 8:09 am

"This is not somebody living hand to nose. LOL. Sad story, however.