Truckee woman convicted of embezzlement
A Truckee woman convicted of embezzling over $30,000 from several Truckee organizations in 2005 was referred by a judge on Tuesday to the California Department of Corrections for a psychiatric evaluation.
Karin E. Pierce was convicted Feb. 8 of six felony counts of grand theft and embezzlement from the Soroptimists, Mountain Comfort Furnishings, In-Heat and others
Sentencing was scheduled for Tuesday in the Nevada County Superior Court, but has been suspended for no more than 90 days to allow the Department of Corrections to complete a diagnostic study of Pierce.
“It isn’t all that often I send a case for a 90-day evaluation,” said Judge C. Anders Holmer during Tuesday’s proceedings. “As I presided over the trial … I began to question whether Ms. Pierce was an individual who has a psychological deficit.”
Pierce and her attorneys attempted a variety of defenses during her trial, including claiming she had been framed, that she was helping her employers hide funds from the Internal Revenue Service and, in the case of the Soroptimists’ money, that she had been reinvesting the money on their behalf, said District Attorney Jim Phillips of Nevada City.
“She shot different defenses to the jury and apparently, the jury didn’t buy any of them,” said Phillips, who was also the prosecutor for the trial.
The Soroptimists’ discovered the embezzlement in fall 2005 when former president Lauren Shaake leafed through some bank statements and noticed an unauthorized check had been made out to Pierce ” who had been serving as treasurer for the nonprofit organization at the time ” for $1,000, Shaake said.
Shaake said she then decided to audit the Soroptimists’ records, and subsequently discovered other irregularities totaling $11,000 of embezzled funds.
Soroptimist President Nancy Davis said while Pierce did reimburse the organization $9,000, she felt Holmer’s decision to explore Pierce’s psychological state was appropriate.
“As a service organization, we felt it was very important that we follow up on this case not necessarily because it was our own money, but as a nonprofit organization, it was the community’s money,” Davis said. “This was a learning lesson that we wanted to share with other organizations.”
David Thomas, owner of Truckee-based In-Heat, said after employing Pierce for nearly five years as a bookkeeper, the friendship they sustained has now been severed by her actions.
Thomas discovered the embezzlement of nearly $25,000 by Pierce after an employee at Plumas Bank in Truckee noticed a suspicious signature on a company check.
Because Pierce had been a family friend, Thomas said he gave her the opportunity to continue doing book work for In-Heat so she could make good on the stolen money ” that was until five months later when on vacation, Thomas’ credit card wouldn’t work.
“She had taken about $8,000 out of the business account to pay off personal expenses,” Thomas said. “We built up a good friendship, but she took advantage of us ” bottom line.”
Phillips said once the judge reviews the recommendations made by the Department of Corrections, Pierce could face up to six years in prison.