Tuesday, August 27, 2013

County school official gets 3.5 years for $300,000 embezzlement in Arizona

The woman accused of ripping off Pima County’s Joint Technical Education District of hundreds of thousands of dollars was sentenced to 3ƒ years in prison Monday.

Melinda Carpio pleaded guilty in Pima County Superior Court in July to attempted fraudulent schemes and artifices and attempted theft for embezzling nearly $300,000 from JTED, where she worked as accounting services manager.

“This was a huge amount of money you stole,” Judge Richard Nichols said at the sentencing.

Nichols said the crimes represented a betrayal of the trust placed in Carpio as a public employee. He also noted that Carpio and her husband, Enrique, were well-paid, making a combined $145,000 per year.

The charges against Enrique Carpio were later dropped as part of the plea agreement.

“If you steal from the public, you’re going to go to prison,” Assistant Arizona Attorney General Mike Jette said after the sentencing.

JTED Superintendent Alan Storm told the judge that Melinda Carpio’s scheme occurred over four fiscal years, when she diverted district funds for services to fictitious vendor accounts that she and her husband later deposited into their own bank accounts.

“Talk about an amazing betrayal of taxpayers, family and friends,” Storm said.

Melinda Carpio offered a tearful apology for the multiyear graft, saying she was ashamed of herself for what she had done. “I broke the law and I take full responsibility,” she said.

In addition to prison, Melinda Carpio will serve five years’ probation after her release and be required to pay more than $288,000 in restitution.

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