Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Convicted embezzler placed on probation

Worthington successfully completes rider program at Cottonwood

Express Staff Writer

A Bellevue woman convicted of embezzlement and forgery last fall has been released on probation following a 180-day stint at a northern Idaho correctional facility.

Fifth District Court Judge Robert J. Elgee reviewed the case status of 40-year-old Lollie Rae Worthington on Monday and decided her good conduct at the facility warranted release from custody.

"You took it seriously—you hopefully took a good look at yourself," Elgee told Worthington. "Now the work starts for you, and now it goes on for a long time."

Worthington still has to spend 10 years on probation and repay $30,000 that she embezzled from her employer, a Ketchum investment firm owned by John A. Orb and John A. Orb Jr.

After pleading guilty to single felony counts of embezzlement and forgery, Worthington was sentenced in October to a "180-day rider" at the North Idaho Correctional Institution in Cottonwood, where convicted felons are given an opportunity for treatment as an option to sending them to prison.

"She seems to have done fairly well on her rider," said Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Fredback, who also noted that Worthington has a "serious criminal history" and will be on "a short leash" regarding the terms of her probation.

Defense attorney Douglas Werth pointed out that the Cottonwood facility gave Worthington an "unqualified recommendation for probation."

"She did a good rider," Werth said. "She focused on what she needed to do, she did what she needed to do."

Elgee said the 10-year probationary period is necessary to ensure that Worthington makes monthly payments to the Orbs until the $30,000 is repaid.

"I know it's going to be tough, but that's what's keeping you out of prison," the judge said.

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