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URBANA — A Tolono woman has been sentenced to 52 months in prison for embezzling more than $600,000 from her former employer and failing to pay federal income tax.

Joan Chenoweth was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Court Judge Colin Bruce.

Bruce further ordered Chenoweth to serve three years of supervised release after her prison time and to pay restitution of $599,152.72 to her former employer, Illini Contractor Supply, and an additional $159,384 to the Internal Revenue Service.

Prosecutors had recommended a 57-month prison sentence.

Chenoweth had control of Illini Contractor Supply’s financial records and control of and access to its credit cards and bank account, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Central District of Illinois.

Court documents showed that from 2014 to 2018, Chenoweth wrote unauthorized vendor checks to herself or cash payable from Illini Contractor Supply’s bank account. She also wrote unauthorized payroll checks to herself that exceeded her salary and used the business’s credit cards to make payments to her personal credit cards, according to prosecutors. She also used her position as office manager to make false entries in the business’ financial records to avoid detection.

Chenoweth pleaded guilty May 17 and has been free on bond. Bruce ordered her to begin serving her sentence Oct. 5.

The case was investigated by Champaign police and the IRS. Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene Miller represented the government in the prosecution.

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