Thief avoids jail

LIHUE — A Kapaa woman who embezzled from her father-in-law’s construction company must pay $50,000 in restitution.

Denise Lucilla Marisol Burkhart, 41, was sentenced to felony probation in 5th Circuit Court on Wednesday for forging checks and other bookkeeping offenses between 2006 and 2009. She was working for Ted Burkart, a general contractor in Lawai.

“I am dismayed that a sentence for a crime of this magnitude, duration and deception would result in no prison time,” Ted Burkart said after the hearing.

County Second Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Vogt said the defendant was using the funds to pay off credit cards, an auto loan, and advertising for her business. She asked the court for probation, 500 hours of community service and the restitution order.

Defense attorney Michael Green said Burkart took responsibility for something she knew was wrong. She took money that did not belong to her even as the owner kept her working as the marriage to his son failed.

“She is certainly remorseful,” Green said.

Judge Kathleen Watanabe said the court worked in conjunction with the defense and the prosecutor to find an acceptable resolution to the matter. The court found restitution to the victim was an important factor in the sentencing and would discourage the defendant from offending again.

“The whole idea was to make Mr. Burkart whole,” Watanabe said.

Watanabe instructed Burkart to turn around and face her father-in-law in court and apologize. A tearful Denise Burkart complied.

Burkhart was arrested on March 6, 2012, and charged with 10 counts of false business records, 115 counts of second-degree forgery, two counts of first-degree theft, and two counts of second-degree theft.

She pleaded no contest to felony charges on two counts of second-degree theft, three counts of second-degree forgery, and three misdemeanor counts of falsifying business records on Aug. 28.

Watanabe ordered the defendant to four years probation for the felony charges, and one year for the misdemeanors.

She also sentenced Burkart to 400 hours community services for the felonies and 100 hours for the misdemeanors.

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