CLEVELAND, Ohio — A North Royalton woman who embezzled $1.1 million from her former employer was sentenced Tuesday to more than three years in federal prison.
Tammy Lacqua, 54, took money from C.C. Mitchell Supply Company in Broadview Heights between December 2013 and March 2017, while working as the appliance distributor’s chief financial officer.
She transferred money from the business’ operating account to her credit cards 71 times, forged company owner Jerry Mitchell’s signature on checks and embezzled money through other unauthorized transactions.
Lacqua pleaded guilty in January to six counts of wire fraud. U.S. District Judge Christopher Boyko imposed the 41-month sentence and ordered her to pay back the money she stole.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian McDonough said Lacqua detailed the transactions in a folder on her computer labeled “Do Not Use.”
He said Lacqua used the money at Put-in-Bay, for trips, at day spas, restaurants and bars. She spent money on herself and two roommates in a way her attorney described as trying to essentially buy their friendship.
Mitchell said in court that his company was on its way to making $20 million a year, but that Lacqua’s embezzlement and financial problems that came in its wake halted the company’s growth.
“We’re going to make it, but it’s hard,” he said.
Lacqua gave a tearful apology and vowed to do what she could to pay back the money he stole. Her lawyer Michael Goldberg said his client had struggled with alcoholism and is being treated for underlying mental health issues. He also requested a lower sentence than the 33-41-month range recommended by the U.S. Probation Office, saying her meek personality and issues would ensure a hard time for her behind bars.
Mitchell, however, said he didn’t believe her expressions of remorse.
“The only thing she’s sorry about is that she got caught,” he said.
Boyko said he would have given a longer prison sentence if not for her mental-health issues and struggles with alcoholism. He made clear his disdain for her actions and her abuse of her position.
The judge told Lacqua he thought she would still be stealing if she hadn’t been caught, “and don’t tell me you wouldn’t be.”
The judge noted that a reputation is something a person takes to their grave.
“I hope you can redeem yourself before you die, because now it’s down the drain,” Boyko said.
Lacqua’s roommates have not been charged. Boyko asked her whether they knew she was stealing from her employer. She said no and that they didn’t know how much she made in a year.
Boyko then asked McDonough whether he believed Lacqua, and the prosecutor replied “no, your honor.”
“Neither do I,” the judge said.
Lacqua is free on bond. Boyko let her report to prison at a later date.