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Wis. woman to serve time in Woodbury swindle case

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crime and courts Woodbury, 55125
Woodbury Minnesota 8420 City Centre Drive 55125

A Wisconsin woman convicted of stealing more than $100,000 from the Woodbury workplace where she once served as vice president must spend more than three months in jail and repay the missing funds, a judge ordered.

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Debbie Jo Brown, of Osceola, Wis., was sentenced June 16 by Washington County District Court Judge Richard Ilkka to 100 days in jail and was ordered to pay $103,100 in restitution to Quality Abstract.

She must also spend up to 10 years on probation.

Terms of the sentence include a provision preventing her from holding a job where she is responsible for performing fiduciary duties - unless approved by her probation officer. She must also complete a gambling screening.

Brown, 44, was charged in October 2010 with one count of theft by swindle.

According to a criminal complaint, company officials at Quality Abstract became suspicious after an Internal Revenue Service audit flagged a period between 2007 and 2008. IRS auditors requested documentation of expenses charged to company credit cards.

Less than a month later, Brown abruptly quit her job, the complaint states. She met with the business owner, Bradley Schmitt, and admitted to using the company credit card for unauthorized purchases for three years.

Prosecutors said Brown made the unauthorized purchases at retail establishments, Minnesota casinos, airlines, Wisconsin state and local government, and communications companies.

During an interview with Woodbury police, Brown explained her sudden departure from Quality Abstract.

"I couldn't do it anymore. The guilt was killing me," the complaint states.

Brown - who had worked at the company since 1990, eventually becoming a vice president - told police she had been using the company credit card for personal purchases "since Day 1." She admitted that she was living beyond her means, but that debt kept "snowballing."

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