A woman who pleaded guilty to an embezzlement that cost her former employer more than $348,000 has been sentenced to up to 45 months prison.

Patricia Jean Wicks, 49, received the sentence during a Monday hearing in the courtroom of District Judge Ellie Roohani.

“We are happy she is going to have to face the consequences for her actions,” said Steve Schafer, co-owner of Earth Resource Group, which was victimized in the theft. “There shouldn’t be just probation for this.”

The general engineering contractor at 6041 Clark St. does environmental remediation work throughout Southern Nevada. In December 2019, Schafer said, the company was barely getting ahead financially despite doing a large number of jobs for customers. An audit of the business subsequently found that Wicks, the company’s longtime officer manager, had stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to both police and court records.

“A total 100 percent betrayal,” Schafer said this week. “We treated her like family.”

Jessica Banks, a forensic legal auditor with the Clark County district attorney’s office, reviewed the company’s bank account and purchases.

According to grand jury transcripts in the case, the auditor found more than $348,000 in unauthorized expenditures, including $27,025 in checks written directly to Wicks, $5,533 in AT&T charges, $17,411 in Enterprise Rent-A-Car charges, $113,086 in Lowe’s charges, $122,640 in debit card charges and $62,879 in ATM withdrawals.

Wicks was indicted on more than three dozen felony counts of theft and forgery. She pleaded guilty in May to two felony counts of theft and agreed to pay back $348,576.38, according to court records.

The defendant offered an apology for the theft in a letter written to the judge prior to sentencing, according to court records. She said in the letter she made a terrible mistake while under intense financial pressure and after she suffered a series of losses of loved ones who were close to her.

“The day I was confronted about what I did I admitted to what I did, and I apologized,” Wicks wrote. “I have been regretful and hurting every day since I was let go from ERG. I have wanted to reach out multiple times just to apologize but I know that’s not an option and it won’t change what I did. I regret every single day what I did.”

The judge gave Wicks until Sept. 12 to turn herself in at the Clark County Detention Center.

Original Article