“Every time we look, we find more,” the Philip’s Machining owner said. “The last tally I have is $650,000. That doesn’t include attorney fees or auditing fees.”
Pleune was in Ottawa County Circuit Court on Tuesday when his former employee, Rhonda Kay Jimenez, 56, tried to enter guilty pleas to the following charges: Embezzlement of $100,000 or more, two counts of forgery, and two counts of uttering and publishing.
The Muskegon woman worked for Pleune for more than 14 years. She had been scheduled to go to trial on the charges Wednesday.
She faces a minimum of three years in prison when sentenced.
Judge Jon Hulsing said he was not inclined to accept the guilty plea at that time, partially because of a pending civil lawsuit.
Jimenez’s attorney, Matt Kacel, asked the judge for a 90-day delay while a settlement is negotiated.
Kacel said officials are trying to sell Jimenez’s bar — Cancun Connection Bar and Grill. Money from the sale could be used towards the restitution.
“The sale is a key component to the restitution,” Pleune said. “From here it is an act of fate — for her to follow through.”
Hulsing said if restitution is paid through the civil case, prosecutors would drop one count each of forgery, and uttering and publishing. The chances of sticking to the lower end of the sentencing guidelines become more realistic, he noted.
The lawsuit, filed earlier this year, claimed Jimenez embezzled more than $521,000 from Philip’s Machining, where she worked as the office manager.
The lawsuit claimed Jimenez used a variety of ways to embezzle the money, using six different credit cards issued to Philip’s and to Source Group Technologies LLC, also owned by Pleune.
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