Glassworks embezzler sentenced to 10 years for taking $727,000 www.privateofficer.com
Louisville KY Aug 1 2012 Her voice cracking with emotion, the former chief financial officer of Glassworks and Architectural Glass Art apologized for embezzling $726,907 from the two companies as she was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison for her crimes.
“I am here today to take responsibility for the actions that have caused so much pain to so many people and for that I am truly sorry,” Latrisha Riedling, 43, told Jefferson Circuit Judge Susan Schultz Gibson.
But her victims, Kenneth von Roenn and his daughter Page, described how Riedling’s thievery forced them to sell Glassworks and has driven their other company — the 137-year-old Architectural Glass Art — to the brink of bankruptcy, devastating their family’s finances and forcing them to lay off 25 employees over the years.
In their emotional testimony, they described how their small, family owned companies and their families and others were devastated by Riedling’s crimes.
Offering victim-impact statements tinged with sadness and anger, Kenneth von Roenn described how he will never see a penny of the $2 million he invested in Glassworks, which he founded 10 years ago and was forced to sell to his landlord last year.
“I have no savings, I will never be able to retire. I will have to work until the day I die,” he said, adding that Riedling, who was hired as a bookkeeper in 2005, expressed remorse only on the day she tried to save her job and Tuesday at her sentencing.
Page von Roenn, the surviving company’s vice president, recalled how her father stayed at cheap motels because he thought Glassworks’ fortunes were declining. One time, she said, his credit card was refused and he called Riedling, who was dining at Jeff Ruby’s at company expense, to ask for another card number.
“She stole so she could eat out seven days a week,” Page von Roenn said. “She stole so she could shop.”
Court records showed that from April 2005 to June 2011, the companies earned more than $700,000 — most of it in cash — yet Riedling deposited only $8,000 into their bank accounts.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Stacy Greive said Riedling also wrote checks to herself and overpaid her husband, who worked for the company. He was not charged.
She pleaded guilty last month to 21 counts of theft in a plea bargain that allows her to seek shock probation, although Greive said she would oppose it.
Gibson ordered her to pay $676,970 in restitution, giving her credit for $50,000 the companies received in insurance money, but declined to even consider granting probation.
“Every week I am faced with people who steal because they have a drug habit or because they have no money and never will have any money, and I send those people to prison,” she said. “So how on Earth could I not sentence you to prison?”
In an interview after Riedling was taken away to jail, Kenneth von Roenn said: “It was good to close this chapter but the story will go on and on. The ripples are never ending. We will survive, but the damage she has done to her own family is devastating. How do you ever overcome something like that?”
Page von Roenn described in court how Riedling’s disloyalty was particularly crushing because the company had treated her like family and she had considered her a close friend, accompanying her to Las Vegas, for example, for her 40th birthday.
Riedling’s lawyer, Chris Klein, declined to discuss her motivation for taking the money. He intends to file a motion to seek her release on shock probation after she serves between 30 and 180 days of her sentence.
Riedling disputed the amount she was charged with stealing, saying it was less. But the von Roenns described how their losses far exceeded the amount taken because they had to pay $100,000 to an accountant to re-balance their books and to shell out additional money for other expenses.
In 2001, von Roenn moved his company from the Highlands to West Market Street, and the companies started a gallery that featured the work of local artists and also offered glass-blowing workshops.
Riedling, who eventually was promoted to CFO, had complete control of finances, from reimbursement checks to deposits to payroll.
After being forced to eliminate raises, reduce hours and lay off some employees, the family finally realized in June 2011, while restructuring finances, that Riedling was siphoning money from the companies into her own accounts.
When the von Roenns decided they couldn’t keep Glassworks open, Bill Weyland, managing director of City Properties Group, which owns the building, took over operations and created Glassworks Studio LLC.
The von Roenns were forced to move their surviving company, Architectural Glass Art, to cheaper quarters at 621 E. Main Street