Sunday, Dec 8, 2013
24-Months In Prison: Ex-Marion Water Manager Sentenced
UPDATE 5:30 p.m. SEPTEMBER 20, 2013
BENTON -- Nearly a year and a half after the start of an investigation into missing funds at the Marion water department, the case has come to a close.
A federal judge sentenced 59-year-old Linda Heyde on Friday to two years in prison on three counts of embezzlement. But she will get to spend a few more days with family and friends before she is sent to prison for embezzlement.
"In the real world, you have to be punished for doing something, and this was not a small crime as Judge Gilbert pointed out," explains Heyde's attorney John Stobbs. "And the people of Marion, who she basically took their money as Judge Gilbert said, and she needed to be punished. She needs to go to jail for that."
Heyde pleaded guilty in May for taking nearly $524,000 from the Marion Water Department, where she worked as the manager. A year earlier, the city caught her stuffing cash into her purse after officials installed surveillance cameras. Now, a judge has sentenced her to 24 months in prison and ordered her to pay back all that she stole.
"We were asking for 15 months, the government was asking for 33 months. Neither of us are probably very happy with the sentence, but it was a fair sentence," explains Stobbs.
Inside the courtroom, Heyde stood up in front of the judge and apologized for her actions. She also turned to the gallery and apologized to her friends and family. She admitted she had a gambling addiction, but wouldn't go as far to say that her husband did as well.
Federal prosecutor Norm Smith showed the Casino losses for the Heydes from 1999 to 2012. It showed Linda had lost about $234,000, but her husband Charles, the former Marion Fire Chief, racked up roughly $733,000 in debt. Judge Gilbert said it was hard for him to believe her husband didn't know what was going on.
For former colleagues of the Heydes, it may take time to forgive and forget.
"Whether it was because of an addiction or just because wanting to take the money, I don't know. But whatever, disappointment," says Marion Mayor Bob Butler.
Heyde will also have to undergo mental health and gambling therapy. Stobbs says she will likely spend at least 20 months of her 24-month sentence in prison. Afterward, she will be placed on probation for three years.
BENTON - Former Marion Water Department Manger Linda Heyde was sentenced to 24-months in prison and ordered to pay $524,000 in restitution for stealing from the city's water department funds.
Heyde appeared in Benton Federal Court Friday for her sentencing hearing. She entered a guilty plea earlier this year. She was charged with stealing more than a half-million dollars from the city's water department.
The judge also ordered Heyde to seek treatment for a gambling addiction. Federal prosecutors said Heyde and her husband reported close to a million-dollars in gambling losses on their income taxes.
Heyde's embezzlement was discovered following a nine month investigation by the police department. Heyde was fired from the position in May of 2012 -- and the case handed over to the FBI.
Mayor Bob Butler spoke about the investigation in an earlier interview with News 3.
"This was done with professional skill, and it was not easy to track all of the machinations that took place. So it took time," said Butler. "My biggest disappointments since I've been mayor have been in people. People that I've trusted, respected, liked, and have known.">
Audits of the department had come back clean -- for years, but in April of 2012 police were contacted because some daily bank deposits didn't have any cash only checks.
The indictment explained that Marion Police installed hidden cameras in the water department, hoping to find any suspicious activity. In that video, Heyde is allegedly caught putting money in her purse.
According to court documents - Heyde is seen dumping a bank deposit bag between her legs onto the floor. Heyde later discovered the hidden cameras. When she was interviewed by police she admitted to stealing money and manipulating the books.
At the time she told police it had only been going on for six months and that she had taken "three to four-thousand dollars.
However an audit over a three year period found $524,000 in missing funds. That audit also discovered false changes to customer accounts, and that accounts had been made for fake customers.
Heyde worked for the city for about 40 years and had been manager of the Water Department for nearly 10 years.
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