A former employee of Chapman Honda was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for embezzling $500,000 from the auto dealer.
Brenda Reiko Bryan pleaded guilty in July to two counts of wire fraud, according to court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Tucson.
Prosecutors said she spent nearly six years forging signatures, depositing Chapman Automotive Group checks into her bank accounts, and using company checks to pay her bills.
Judge Rosemary Marquez on Tuesday also ordered Bryan to pay back the $514,000 she embezzled from 2007 to 2013, court records show.
Bryan used the money to pay her auto loan, student loans, travel, gambling, her daughter’s wedding, and to pay off her credit cards and those of her family members, federal prosecutor Jane Westby wrote in a sentencing memorandum.
Bryan worked for Chapman Honda for more than 14 years and was paid $4,000 a month in 2013. She “used her position of trust” to steal the money and “she only stopped stealing because she was caught,” Westby wrote.
To avoid being detected, Bryan disguised the fraud by using names and vehicle registration numbers of real Chapman customers.
Bryan was responsible for the accounts payable and receivable for Chapman Honda and its luxury brand Chapman Acura, according to the indictment.
In another aspect of the scheme, Bryan deposited $38,000 from an oil recycling company that paid Chapman for its used motor oil into her personal bank account, according to court documents.
Bryan later made 15 transfers to pay personal expenses with Chapman checks ranging from about $400 to $3,000, according to court documents.
Bryan had no criminal history, defense attorney Jack Lansdale Jr. wrote in a memorandum.
Depression and anxiety caused by childhood abuse may have led to the embezzlement, he continued.
Landsdale also wrote that the court directed Bryan to seek mental health treatment.
Lansdale asked for a sentence of probation, while prosecutors asked for 33 months in prison.
In an interview, Lansdale said the sentence was a “thoughtful decision” by the judge.