Thursday, September 6, 2012

Scammer Who Pocketed $1,276, Failed To Deliver Promised Debt Management Services Gets 20-60 Months For Felony Embezzlement

In Petoskey, Michigan, the Petoskey News reports:

  • A 53-year-old Traverse City woman who pleaded no contest last year to an embezzlement charge was sentenced to prison Monday in Emmet County's 57th Circuit Court.

    In September, Toni Lavonne Avery pleaded no contest to one count of embezzlement — agent or trustee $1,000 or more but less than $20,000, a felony offense, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine, or three times the amount embezzled, whichever is greater, Emmet County prosecutor Jim Linderman previously told the News-Review.

    During Monday's delayed sentencing hearing, judge Charles Johnson sentenced Avery to serve not less than one year and eight months and not more than five years with the Michigan Department of Corrections, with credit for one day served. She must also pay at least $1,276 in restitution.

    The Emmet County Sheriff's Office arrested Avery in April 2011 for embezzling money from a Petoskey couple who hired her to work as their financial adviser, according to a sheriff's office news release issued last year. Linderman said the couple hired Avery as a financial adviser in September of 2007. Her company was named BEST Financial Services Inc.

    Linderman explained that Avery was subsequently given two checks, one for $826 and one for $450, for services that ultimately were not rendered. It wasn't until about a year later that the couple was confronted by attorneys and debt collectors for the work Avery had been paid to do, according to the sheriff's office news release.

    On Monday, Avery's attorney, Bob Engel, asked the court to "look at the good in Toni Avery" and to consider probation and tether rather than sentence her to time in prison.

    "My client has helped a number of people over the years, clearing up their debt problems," including the victims in this case, Engel said.

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