Embezzlement saga drags on in NK Circuit Court
After five scheduled court dates over the past four months have failed to fulfill a plea deal whereby a woman, who embezzled more than $12,000 from her New Kent employer, pays back the money, a county circuit court judge has run out of patience.
Ruling on Feb. 8, an exasperated Judge Thomas B. Hoover revoked bond for Ashley Morgan Long, ordering the defendant held in jail until a new trial can be scheduled before a substitute judge.
Long, 28, of 8931 Germont Ave., Richmond, is charged with one count of embezzlement stemming from $12,627.76 taken from New Kent Animal Hospital where she worked from September 2008 until July 2009.
Long’s extended court saga began on Nov. 2 when a plea deal, in which she would plead guilty and receive five years in prison (all suspended) provided she paid back the money, was handed to Hoover. The judge balked from the start.
“Why should she not serve 30 to 60 days in jail for that amount of money?” Hoover questioned prosecutor Linwood Gregory.
Gregory responded that state sentencing guidelines call for no incarceration for amounts up to $75,000 for someone such as Long, who has no previous criminal record.
“The court has accepted guidelines in the past, and there was no reason to believe it would not do so in this case,” the prosecutor added.
In relating facts of the case, Gregory said on 86 occasions, Long credited bogus refunds to her credit card on items supposedly returned by customers. The hospital’s office manager discovered the scheme and contacted the credit card company to see who received the refunds.
In court, Long promised to pay $10,000 using cash advances of $5,000 each from a pair of credit cards she planned to apply for. A skeptical Hoover reluctantly granted a continuance until Nov. 30.
But on Nov. 30, Long was a no-show. Her attorney, Terry Osbourne, told the court Long had been taken that morning to a hospital emergency room after complaining about pain. Osbourne also said the cash advances had not come through.
“I’m not surprised,” Hoover said in disgust before continuing the matter until Dec. 14.
Still, no money emerged on Dec. 14. Long told Hoover she applied for the cards in mid-November and it takes 6-8 weeks before the money arrives. But then she said a friend had agreed to give her the money from the friend’s retirement account or investments. Hoover continued the case again, this time to Jan. 11.
“I’m real skeptical about this, but maybe you’ll surprise me,” the judge told Long.
On Jan. 11, Long handed over a check for $10,000. She told the court the friend had deposited the money into her account from a 401K plan. She then promised to pay the rest in February, and Hoover continued the matter until Feb. 8.
The check bounced.
Long told the judge on Feb. 8 that she had tried to contact her friend, but her phones calls had not been returned. Weary of excuses, Hoover labeled the plea deal “unacceptable” before placing Long in jail. A new trial date has not been set.