Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Woman admits to embezzling $151,000

Guilty plea entered in AmeriTitle theft case

Express Staff Writer

Christine M. Maloney

A woman who embezzled more than $151,000 from AmeriTitle in Hailey admitted to her guilt Monday in Blaine County 5th District Court.

Christine M. Maloney, a 45-year-old Carey woman, pleaded guilty to the crime of grand theft by embezzlement. She admitted that she had stolen the money while employed at the AmeriTitle title agency with signature authority on checks.

Maloney told the court she pleaded guilty "because I'm guilty. I am guilty of grand theft by embezzlement."

Court records state that the thefts took place from February 2005 through October 2007. Maloney was arrested by Hailey police last November after AmeriTitle reported the missing funds.

The guilty plea was in accord with a plea agreement with the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, which will recommend that Maloney be sentenced to 14 years in prison, with four years to be served before she is eligible for parole. The prosecutor's office will also ask for repayment of the stolen money.

Defense attorney Ron Tyler Bird told the court that he will ask for a withheld judgment and a 180-day rider sentence followed by probation.

Under the "rider" program, convicted felons are given an opportunity for treatment as an option to sending them to prison. Usually they are sent to the North Idaho Correctional Institution in Cottonwood. At the conclusion of the 180-day sentence, the case is reviewed by the presiding judge, who can order either probation or a prison sentence.

Sentencing was set for 9 a.m. on July 14. Maloney remains free on bond.

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