Kingman woman sentenced for financial crimes
KINGMAN — A Kingman woman who stole from her school district employer for nearly five years before ripping off an elderly customer while working as a bank teller has been sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison. Deborah Long, 44, was sentenced Friday by Mohave County Superior Court Judge Derek Carlisle.
Long was one of the first two employees hired when the Western Arizona Vocational Education (WAVE) district was established in 2009. She pleaded guilty to fraud and theft for stealing nearly $140,000 from WAVE from November of 2011 to August of 2016.
The school district case was prosecuted by Mary Harris of the Arizona Attorney General’s office. She said Long exploited loopholes and engaged in strategic, sophisticated and elaborate criminal behavior using eight schemes to siphon WAVE money for personal use.
“I don’t believe she acted out of malice here,” said defense attorney Lee Novak. “She just got in over her head.”
“I was wrong in my actions. I’ve hurt a lot of people, business and family,” Long said. “I know I have to be punished for what I’ve done. I am very sorry.”
WAVE governing board chairman Tom Duranceau and superintendent Amy West spoke of damage by Long’s abuse of public trust and theft of money from the school district and its taxpayers. “I have never felt so betrayed in my life,” said West.
West said WAVE was requesting more than $31,000 in restitution to cover its cost of investigation, audit and other expenses in the aftermath discovery of the embezzlement in August of 2016.
Long also pleaded guilty to theft for stealing more than $6,300 from a 79-year-old customer she served while working as a teller at Compass Bank.
Deputy Mohave County attorney Rod Albright prosecuted the bank customer case, calling Long a calculating criminal.
“It is abhorrent for a bank teller to steal from an elderly lady,” especially after getting busted for swindling the school district, Albright said. “The community should be outraged by this and the defendant should receive the maximum punishment.”
Judge Carlisle ordered that Long pay almost $177,000 in restitution to cover losses by the school district and the bank customer. He also ordered that Long serve seven years probation upon release from prison.