An Atascadero, California, woman was sentenced March 16 to serve 10 years and four months in state prison following her plea of no contest to 18 counts of embezzlement, two counts of forgery and one count of attempted embezzlement of a local construction company she worked for.
Joy Wilde, 43, pleaded no contest to every charge alleged against her, including an allegation that she stole more than $500,000. The admission to stealing more than $500,000 requires Wilde to serve her sentence in state prison, as opposed to county jail, according to a release from the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's office.
A county investigation revealed that over the course of more than three years, Wilde stole $877,123 from her former employer, Creston, California-based Greg Wiemann Construction, while working as a bookkeeper and office manager. The theft scheme involved Wilde passing 64 fraudulent checks and attempting to pass three others.
The investigation into Wilde's wrongdoings began in July 2019 when Wiemann reported that his bookkeeper had embezzled more than $47,000 from the company. Wilde had reportedly taken checks made out to vendors, altered them and then deposited them into her personal bank account.
Wilde allegedly told her family she was receiving bonuses for her excellent work, the Paso Robles Daily News reported.
During sentencing, Superior Court Judge Jesse Marino highlighted the “outrageously large amount of money” taken by Wilde and concluded that the decade-long prison sentence was warranted “due to its sheer volume.” The victim, owner Greg Wiemann, was present at sentencing and recounted the significant impact of Wilde’s theft in a letter to the court. Judge Marino recognized that Wiemann had placed a great deal of trust in Wilde, and that her deceit was “the most difficult aspect of this case” for the victim.
“Embezzlement crimes are significant at several levels,” said District Attorney Dan Dow in the release. “In addition to the financial devastation that large scale thefts can wreak on a business, is the very personal impact realized when a long-term employee in a position of confidence violates that trust. It frequently happens at the hands of someone you have come to know, trust and with whom you have developed a strong relationship.”