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$50,000 Secret
Bookkeeper Sentenced to a Year in Jail but Didn't Tell Her Husband

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Bookkeeper Sentenced to a Year in Jail but Didn't Tell Her Husband

Tehwauna Harris used to be the assistant bookkeeper for Sutherland Motors in Fredericton, New Brunswick. That is until she was caught with her hand in the till to the tune of $51,000. Now she is looking at spending the next year in a jail cell. The story has a sad twist to it.

What will Ms. Harris's husband say about this turn of events? That's not clear since at the time of her sentencing, Ms. Harris had not told him what was going on.

According to the Daily Gleaner, Ms. Harris previously pleaded guilty to one count of theft between August 30, 2005 and May 31, 2006.

The prosecutor argued for a jail sentence of two years less a day. The defense attorney said his client should be given a probationary sentence, given that she has health problems and cares for her elderly mother-in-law at home.

It was also noted that during her pre-sentence report interview with a probation officer, Ms. Harris hadn't told her husband about the theft charge or her impending sentencing hearing. In fact, at her sentencing hearing she still hadn't told her husband about the charge or that she might be incarcerated.

"What are you going to do (if I sentence you to jail and) if you don't show up for dinner tonight?" the judge asked her before he rendered his decision on a sentence. "I don't know," she said.

The nine-month scheme to steal from her employer came to light in June 2006.

Ms. Harris, who was the assistant bookkeeper for Fredericton Mazda, asked her boss, the company's owner, for a refund check for a customer on June 4, 2006, noting that the customer had paid cash for a repair that was covered by Mazda under a warranty.

When the dealer/principal asked for the accompanying paperwork, Ms. Harris couldn't produce it, and that raised suspicions. A quick review of the books revealed that some figures had been altered and some entries had been fabricated.

Ms. Harris eventually admitted to taking the money and said she did it in part because she has health problems and even blamed her employer to some extent. "She said (her boss) was hard to work for, and he took advantage of her," the prosecutor said.

A forensic audit revealed that over $50,000 was stolen.

Then on the day she was fired, Ms. Harris went to a local pharmacy and bought $300 worth of drugs before the dealership could cancel her health insurance.

The judge said there were no exceptional circumstances in Ms. Harris' case to allow him to forego jail time as a sentence.

Moral of the story—Make sure your employees aren’t keeping any secrets from you.

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