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A 68-year-old woman pleaded guilty to six counts of felony embezzlement Thursday morning for taking $38,500 from the Poquoson Art League.
Deborah Pittman, who worked as a volunteer bookkeeper for the group of artists and crafters, will serve 30 days in jail as part of a plea agreement she entered into in the York-Poquoson Circuit Court.
The agreement also includes a withheld finding, meaning if Pittman serves her jail time, complies with two years of supervised probation and pays restitution, all six charges will be reduced to misdemeanors.
On six occasions, between Dec. 10, 2013 and Aug. 12, 2014, Pittman took substantial amounts of money from the Poquoson Art League’s Wells Fargo bank account and paid it to a video and audio store, according to evidence laid out in court by prosecutor Donna Maw.
Pittman worked as a bookkeeper at Audio Visual Solutions, located at 5922 George Washington Memorial Highway, Maw said. The store is no longer in business, according to court records.
Court documents show the amounts paid to the audio visual store ranged from $500 to $10,000.
“Pittman admitted to embezzling the money to assist the business Audio Visual Solutions, of which she was an employee, financially,” according to criminal complaints filed in open court.
The art league’s board of directors noticed they rarely had sizeable sums of money in the group’s bank account, and asked to meet with Pittman, their bookkeeper, to find what was happening, Maw said.
Pittman did not agree to meet with them, so they looked at the group’s records and found large sums of money had been paid to and come in from Audio Visual Solutions.
The directors went to the business to find out why they were paying them so much money, and found Pittman to be employed there, Maw said.
At the time, York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office investigator Capt. Troy Lyons was looking into large losses at Audio Visual Solutions.
Pittman admitted to taking money from the Art League, but paid back the money, totaling $38,500, from the finances of Audio Visual Solutions, Maw said.
“The ladies from the art league have communicated how this is a personal loss for them and they feel very hurt by it,” Maw said.
Pittman will serve five days in jail on each charge, totaling 30 days. She will serve the time on weekends starting March 3.
She is also barred from any bookkeeping or tax preparation jobs while she serves her two years on probation.
Pittman has no prior criminal record, Maw said.