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Please BE ALERT - if you see this female in ANY bar or casino in the STATE of Montana, contact the police immediately for violating the terms of her conviction. Montana City, Butte, Townsend, Missoula, be aware!
Here is the text of our Victim Impact Statement (minus my ad libs along the way) read before Judge Sherlock before issuing his sentence:
"This will be my second experience giving a Victim Impact Statement. The first was December 1999. Sixteen years ago. At the time, I was an Administrative Assistant for the State of Montana, working 8 to 5; my husband Tony was a bartender and manager working for the previous owner of the Motherlode. Our youngest child, Lora, had finished her first year of college in May. While driving home from a movie with friends, the car she was driving was struck head-on by a van whose driver fell asleep at the wheel. December sixteen years ago, I stood before another judge and tried to summarize all the ways in which that van driver’s careless decision – a choice he made – had forever negatively impacted my life and the lives of each of her family members… praying Lady Justice heard clearly the clarion call for justice through my words.
And so I stand today. While justice was not meted out in that criminal trial, we fared better in the civil suit. From that settlement, we were able to purchase the Motherlode a few years later when its owner, Tony’s former boss, died unexpectedly. Our purchase of the Motherlode was with the settlement money from Lora’s death. Unlike many others in this town, our business is not financed by inheritance nor is it part of a Montana chain of casinos. In other words, we do NOT have “deep pockets.” Until 2003, we were “working stiffs” like everyone else in this town, living paycheck to paycheck and hoping for the day we could put some money away in savings. Even now, although our names are on the mortgage, in reality the bank still holds the deed until I am in my early 70s. Please do not consider this $121k dollars an easy business write-off for us, because it is not.
Perhaps if this were not our first business venture, we would not have been so trusting of the slightly built older lady who approached us for employment in 2008. Perhaps if she had not cried so tearfully as she listened to my story of Lora, and seemed such a tender-hearted genuine person, I would have been more suspicious of the fact that she came to work so early. But she always made the first pots of coffee for the employees and the customers, bringing an apple fritter every morning to my husband for breakfast. And every time I returned from another emergency trip to my elderly parents, she asked about their health, listened to me cry, reassured me that she was praying for them. She “marked” us well, as all thieves do, Your Honor. Not even a week before I uncovered her years of deceit, she had used her lottery winnings paid for at our expense to gamble on one of our gaming machines. When she hit the jackpot, she came up to me and slipped a $50 bill in my hand. “Here,” she said. “I want to donate this to those girls you sponsor overseas in the Philippines.” I said, “Are you sure?” She laughed and said, “I just won $800 from YOUR machine, yes, I’m sure!” Yep. She marked me well.
But not forever. A week later, when at my wits end I was scrambling to find WHERE we were hemorrhaging money, WHY, and how in God’s name we were going to pay our machine taxes that were coming due in another week, it finally came to light that it was through our lottery account, and furthermore it was happening through a Manager we trusted --- a lightbulb went on, her cover was blown, and our trust was shattered.
We scrambled to cover our butts, financially, for over a month, juggling accounts and invoices creatively and real-time all day long every day until the cash flow started picking back up. Instantly, every employee fell under suspicion. It changed the entire dynamic of our business. Where before we were trusting, that no longer is true. Surely some of that naiveté needed to go, but not like this and certainly not to this extent. Still, it has happened and every single one of us at the Motherlode have suffered from it.
To add insult to injury, even though she had confessed to her thievery, and after her performance that earned her a comfortable bed in Hope House instead of jail, she had the audacity to send her daughter to the Motherlode to pick up her final paycheck! And then, because there was no room at the jail for supposed white-collar criminals, she was released to await trial at home…during which time she continued to gamble, every week since her arrest, at Lucky Lil's, the Montana Nugget, and other casinos around town using up the remaining money she had garnered at our expense with no limitation on such behavior from the Justice System! During which time she also filed for welfare benefits (How do I know? They called me as her former employer confirm the reason for her termination in managing her claim!) Do you see remorse in these behaviors? An acknowledgement of her guilt? Because I see none. When the detective spoke with her about motive, after giving several inventive versions of the truth, she finally admitted that she wanted to buy a nicer home. I guess that would be to go along with the $300 purse she bragged about to her former co-workers. Sure, all of us want nice things. We work for them, or we do without. I make do with a 1400 square foot home and a $50 purse, myself.
As for this being her first offense… well, it turns out that is not quite true. You see, after we had Longfellow arrested, a fellow business owner asked me, “Are you going to prosecute her?” !! I was dumbfounded!! Gee, ya think??! It turns out not all business people think alike. Soon afterward, I heard from a former co-worker of the defendant’s. She was employed by another casino when the defendant worked there immediately prior to joining the Motherlode. The boss at this other casino suspected the defendant of stealing money through the live keno games. This other employee was given additional hours of employment for the sole purpose of pouring through the keno records to prove or disprove those suspicions. The employee documented the defendant’s ongoing thievery and reported it to their boss. The information gathered was sufficient to terminate her employment, and she was fired. However, THAT business owner chose not to pursue the matter legally. Why he did NOT is beyond my understanding. Had he done so, we would not be standing here today because we most certainly would not have hired her to handle cash nor be a Manager! I have a copy here of that former co-worker’s statement corroborating my claim of the defendant’s previous thievery on the job for your perusal.
So what would Justice look like were my husband and I to be asked? Well, certainly it would include prohibiting her from visiting casinos and other gambling entertainment venues, until full restitution is satisfied. And since she has shown no remorse, instead intentionally playing on the sympathies of others even as she had us through the years, all the while coolly reaching into our proverbial pockets, it would most certainly include incarceration of the sort that would leave a lasting impression. Surely the defendant knew prison was a real possibility, since during her own active thievery her husband was himself doing time in Butte for embezzlement from his VA job (which, incidentally, was one of her many sob stories she used for sympathy, lamenting that she “had had no idea what he was up to”). So it should hardly come as a surprise to her were she to receive incarceration, rather it would be just another gamble she’s bet on and, with your help, Judge, lost. As a matter of fact, I read in our paper recently that just up the road in Boulder, Montana, a government employee that embezzled over $200k from her job received actual prison time. Should justice be decided based on the employer victimized, or on the crime committed? Tony and I do not have the clout politically or financially of a Big Lots, the government, or a Lucky Lils. All I can say is that this criminal single-handedly very nearly bankrupted a small mom-and-pop business, a legacy from our late beloved Lora…she did it willfully, she did it intentionally, and given another trusting, albeit gullible, employer like us, she would absolutely do it again."
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