Business of Law

Judge Calls Former Law Firm Employee's Apology for Stealing $400K 'Shallow,' Gives Her 2 to 20 Years

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Teri Kay Workman was sentenced Tuesday to six consecutive one- to 10-year prison terms for embezzling nearly $400,000 from a West Virginia law firm for which she formerly worked as a business manager for seven years.

However, Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom suspended four of the six sentences, after saying that he considered the in-court apology offered by the 44-year-old defendant “shallow,” the Charleston Daily Mail reports.

Once she is released, Workman must find a full-time job and start paying restitution, the judge said. “She won’t even approach what is owed, but she is to work every day. I don’t care if it is flipping burgers.”

Attorney Timothy Bailey of Bucci, Bailey & Javins told the court that he considered Workman, who had the second-highest salary among staff at the Charleston law firm, not only an employee but a friend. Her stealing, he said, hurt everyone at the firm, depriving him of money that could have been used to fund college education for his daughter and reducing the amount that otherwise would have gone into the retirement account of the firm’s lowest-paid employee, for example.

He said the firm felt terrible about firing Workman when her job performance slipped, but discovered after a new office manager was hired that money was missing, the newspaper reports. Her thefts had been concealed, in part, by having statements for firm credit card accounts sent to her home.

When he called Workman to ask about $40,000 that had then been discovered to be missing, she admitted taking the money, Bailey said, but told him, when he asked, that she had taken nothing more. Subsequent review proved otherwise, as credit card statements showed Workman repeatedly had embezzled money for her personal use, the article says. She also reportedly took family members on a cruise to Mexico and paid for pizza for a church youth group.

“It was a detailed, complicated system of stealing,” said Bailey, his voice breaking as he talked about his Christian faith and the personal hurt he felt as a result of being victimized by Workman’s scheme. “And constant denial. It’s just shocking.”

Earlier coverage: “Ex-Worker Blames Marriage Issues for $400K Law Firm Theft, Says She Didn’t Know She’d Taken So Much”

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