By JOSH FRIEDMAN
An Atascadero woman who embezzled nearly $900,000 from a Creston construction company was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years and four months in state prison.
Over a period of more than three years, Joy Noel Wilde, 43, stole $877,123 from her former employer, Greg Wiemann Construction, according to the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office. Wilde’s scheme involved passing 64 fraudulent checks and attempting to pass three others. Wilde was working as a bookkeeper and office manager for the construction company during the time the theft occurred.
An investigation into Wilde’s activities began on July 9, 2019, when Gregg Wiemann told the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office that his bookkeeper embezzled more than $47,000. Wilde reportedly took a check made out to a vendor for the construction company, altered the check and then deposited it in her personal bank account.
Over the course of the three-month investigation, deputies discovered numerous other company checks that Wilde deposited in her personal accounts.
Deputies arrested Wilde in 2019. In February, Wilde pleaded no contest to 18 counts of embezzlement, two counts of forgery and one count of attempted embezzlement.
Judge Jesse Marino concluded a decade-long prison sentence, which is unusually long for for an embezzlement case, was justified because of the “outrageously large amount of money” Wilde stole. Marino recognized Wiemann had placed a great deal of trust in Wilde and that Wilde’s deceit was the most difficult aspect of the case for the business owner.
Wiemann was present during the sentencing hearing and recounted the significant impact of Wilde’s theft.
Following sentencing, District Attorney Dan Dow released a statement discussing the impact of embezzlement on businesses.
“Embezzlement crimes are significant at several levels,” Dow said. “In addition to the financial devastation that large scale thefts can wreak on a business, is the very personal impact realized when a long-term employee in a position of confidence violates that trust. It frequently happens at the hands of someone you have come to know, trust and with whom you have developed a strong relationship. This office takes these cases seriously and will continue to prosecute them aggressively.”