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Woman Sentenced to Jail for Embezzlement
updated: Jan 11, 2017, 5:08 PM

Source: District Attorney of Santa Barbara County

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce E. Dudley announced today that Superior Court Judge Gustavo Lavayen sentenced 47 year old Melissa Reynoso to one year in county jail and five years' probation for stealing checks totaling $163,750.00 from her former employer Abacus Premier Property Management and for preparing false bank records to cover-up her theft. Reynoso previously pled to one count of grand theft by embezzlement and one count of preparing false documentary evidence. Reynoso also admitted a special allegation that she stole in excess of $100,000.00.

Reynoso, a former real estate agent, worked as a bookkeeper for Abacus Premier Property Management. As part of her duties she wrote checks to vendors and prepared a monthly reconciliation of the company's bank account. Over the course of several years she wrote over $163,750.00 in checks from the company's account, which were deposited into her bank account. To cover-up the theft she falsified the reconciliations to make it appear as if those checks were written to legitimate vendors.

The case was jointly investigated by the Santa Maria Police Department and District Attorney Supervising Investigator Chris Clement. Reynoso will begin serving her sentence on January 13, 2017. The next court date is on February 25, 2017 at which time a Restitution Hearing will be scheduled.

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 751199P agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-11 05:59 PM

Only 1yr? Yea 5yrs probation but still too me that seems like a lite sentence for stealing 163g's. I hope she has to pay it all back.


 COMMENT 751200P agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-11 06:12 PM

It was a lot more than that (try over $300K). I know the case well. Should have gone away for a long time. Common thief! I see this every single day in my profession and they never get enough time. I was recently involved in a case where the bookkeeper stole $190,000 and after they investigated they found that she had spent 18 months in prison just before they hired her for stealing $900,000 from the previous employer (of which $250,000 was used to pay restitution to the previous previous employer she had robbed). It never ends.


 COMMENT 751201P agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-11 06:12 PM

There's so much "paw dipping" going on at businesses the owners never catch.

This should be a wake up call to ALL business owners that have anybody other than themselves running the books to do a detailed audit & "sniff test."


 COMMENT 751205 agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-11 06:19 PM

I learned in SBCC's Accounting 101: there should be 3 people "running" the books: one receives the statements, one writes the checks, and another one does the reconciliations. Simple, but many businesses don't do that. That's why they get robbed.


 COMMENT 751206P agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-11 06:28 PM

Like 201 implied - It's Paw Dipping 101.

"You get what you pay for!"


 COMMENT 751209 agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-11 07:12 PM

Karma on its way I'm sure!


 COMMENT 751222 agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-12 06:42 AM

Yes, 205, that's the way to do it. Unfortunately, smaller companies think they can't afford the staff to do things that way and are lulled into thinking their employers are like family and can be trusted. It's more expensive than figuring out a way to have cross checks.


 COMMENT 751225 agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-12 07:33 AM

200P, did they really hire someone who just got out of prison for embezzlement? Then that business was just asking for trouble. How hard is it to check to make sure your new hire doesn't have a prison record?


 COMMENT 751230P agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-12 08:14 AM

Not long enough and yes did she have to pay it back??


 COMMENT 751236P agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-12 09:22 AM

Who can you trust, 216P? Ghostbusters!


 COMMENT 751240 agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-12 09:33 AM

Yea, businesses are way too careless with their accountants. Simple safeguards could prevent this. If they don't have money to hire additional full time employees, do occasional unannounced random checks.

But also, man these embezzlers are stupid - into their own account?! Do they not know how easy it is to create shell companies and fake accounts?


 COMMENT 751249 agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-12 10:05 AM

Huh? They must have meant to say 5 years. 1 year must be a typo.


 COMMENT 751250 agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-12 10:12 AM

Meanwhile if some African-American kid robs a Circle K for $160 he will likely get five years.


 COMMENT 751257 agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-12 10:58 AM

Did she have to surrender her preffered black colored players card from the casino?


 COMMENT 751274P agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-12 12:33 PM

225: I see convicted felons who are repeat offenders all the time, unfortunately. In this case, she used her sister's name and social security number to apply for the job and provided her sister's references. The two year absence from working was attributed to maternity leave. Well orchestrated and I don't see how the employer could have figured it out. The theft was discovered after she had been there over three years (they usually start with small amounts and get bolder and start taking more and more). The company hired a new assistant bookkeeper and it only took the new hire about two weeks to uncover the theft.

257: Yes, part of the sentencing for Reynoso included no gambling during probation.


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