By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
When Tarica S. Albaugh first stole money from her then-employer, she called it a “desperation move.”
Her husband had lost his job, and she was afraid they wouldn’t be able keep up their house payments.
“I thought I could pay it back,” she said. “I didn’t. I just let it go. When I realized no one caught me, I did it again.”
“And again, and again,” continued Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert G. Yeatts.
Fifty-four times she stole money from Regency Finance Co., 1 S. Hermitage Road, Hermitage, between Nov. 26, 2008, and Jan. 13, 2013. The total: $85,371.
Albaugh, 35, of 863 N. Buhl Farm Drive, Hermitage, held a senior position with the company, allowing her access to company checks, Hermitage police said.
She would write a check and sign it with her name or the name of another employee and cash it at a local bank, police said. Albaugh would create a fictitious transaction for cash or from a supply vendor and divide the amount over numerous branch offices – up to 72 branches – so that each office would show a minimal bill, police said.
Albaugh marked the fictitious bills as paid so no further action would be taken on them, police said.
“It involved manipulation, scheming, advance planning on your part,” Yeatts said, noting that she put her co-workers at risk of investigation by using their names.
Albaugh, who pleaded guilty to theft, said she “rationalized” that she was entitled to the money.
“I apologize to everybody,” she said. “I know they hate me, pretty much. I don’t blame them.”
Albaugh said she knew what she was doing was wrong.
Yeatts sentenced Albaugh to 9 months to 2 years less 1 day in jail. After serving 2 months in jail, she can serve the rest of her minimum sentence on house arrest, he said.
He ordered her to perform 100 hours’ community service, and pay $69,057 restitution. Regency seized her pension and 401(k), subtracting that from the $85,371 she stole.
Albaugh will pay her restitution and costs at a rate of $100 a month starting next month. She said she hopes to accelerate the payments.