Clerk ordered to pay 71K in restitution

LIHUE — A former Gay & Robinson accounting clerk was ordered to pay $71,800 in restitution on this week in Kauai County 5th Circuit Court.

Leilanie Coma Valenciano was sentenced Wednesday to six months in jail and given five years of probation for two counts of first-degree theft charges. Como Valenciano had been charged April 5, 2011, with nine felony counts of first-degree theft and 227 misdemeanor counts of falsifying business records stemming from the time she’d worked as a clerk for the former sugar company between 2004 and 2008.

Fifth Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Watanabe ordered one year of probation for the 50 misdemeanor charges to run concurrently with the felony sentence, meaning Como Valenciano’s probation period will be five years.

Como Valenciano pleaded guilty to the charges on June 25.

At the sentencing, the judge denied Como Valenciano’s request for a deferred acceptance of the no-contest plea she had entered at her plea hearing. A deferred acceptance allows a defendant to request the court to clear the charges from their record upon successfully completing probation.

“You could have served the maximum 18 months jail with probation,” Watanabe told Como Valenciano.

County Second Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Vogt said the crimes occurred over a four-year period, beginning in 2004.

The victim, Gay & Robinson, claimed about $298,000 in lost funds, but requested $283,000 in restitution after a $25,000 claim was dropped by a claimant no longer in business.

There were eight accounts involved in the falsified accounting transactions, and some creative bookkeeping allowed the checks to be deposited into other accounts and the discrepancies covered with deposits of future client checks, according to the prosecution.

Vogt asked the court for 500 hours community service, $71,800 in restitution and a $5,000 fine.

Watanabe added the court was disturbed the defendant used a son’s money to replace missing funds.

Defense attorney Mark Zenger said the 13 pre-trial conferences with the court in chambers showed how difficult it was to find where the blame landed in this case.

He said there was mismanagement on the part of the defendant but also sub-par accounting practices at the company.

It was a loose accounting system of several client accounts and the fact that two-thirds of the original charges were not subject to the restitution speaks to that, Zenger said.

As for criminal intent, Zenger said the defendant, who declined to speak at the sentencing, used her own money to repay shortcomings in the account.

He said this was manipulative self-help but that the client chose not to fight the charges, he said.

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