Between October 2014 and June of last year, 50-year old New Yorker Vanessa Vence-Small stole no less than $1.1 million while working for Continental BMW of Darien Connecticut.
In her time there, she made 65 unauthorized electronic fund transfers, plus issued and signed 28 checks drawn on the dealership’s account.
Last month, she was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Alker Meyer in New Haven to serve 30 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
The fund transfers she made totaled $904,659, while the checks she used to pay third parties (such as credit card companies, contractors and even a different dealership), were in the amount of $207,777. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she also drew an additional $31,452 from company accounts, for unauthorized credit card charges and reimbursements.
Why drive a BMW when you can buy a Mustang?
During their investigation, the prosecution found that Vence-Small’s personal expenses included first-class air travel and vacations to Australia, Hawaii, Mexico and Jamaica, payments to contractors to remodel and landscape her house, as well as the purchase of a $50,000 Ford Mustang – despite the fact that her employer allowed her to have a luxury BMW model for personal use.
The woman has since been ordered to fully repay the dealership and its insurers (which covered $755,000 of the loss), and so far, she has paid back about $200,000 (including $28,840 she got from selling the Mustang), as reported by Autonews.
“Vanessa thrived on making it seem like she was being the hero and pointing out our flaws to improve them, while she was seeing the opportunities of how to steal from us,” said dealership president Paula Callari during her court appearance as a witness.
“We were all concerned of the dealership finances and that we were not making the profits we should have been. We had to let go of many people and changed several pay plans. But month after month, nothing seemed to change and no one could figure out why. She had an answer for everything but would reassure me that things will be so much better by year-end.”
Photo: Vanessa Vence / Twitter / Facebook
Meanwhile, court documents filed by the U.S. Attorney’s office stated that Vence-Small was motivated by greed and dubbed her an “active consumer of non-essential expenditures” such as cosmetic surgery and fashionable clothes. Terms such as “high-volume spending habits”, “opulent lifestyle” and “lavish materialism” were also used.
During sentencing, her defense lawyers asked for probation and claimed that “she is not a hardened criminal. She is committed to turning her life around.”
However, Continental BMW President Paula Callari didn’t exactly see it that way, stating: “The only thing Vanessa is sorry for is that she stayed with our company too long and got caught. People like Vanessa do not change their stripes.”
In the end, her 30-month prison sentence is somewhat lighter than what the prosecution was seeking initially, specifically 33 to 44 months behind bars.