House arrest, community service prescribed for double embezzler

Staff writerMay 22, 2013 

A Bonney Lake woman was sentenced Wednesday to 30 days’ community service and 15 days’ house arrest after being convicted of embezzling money from her homeowners association and her former employer.

Jeanette Sturtz, 56, pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree theft prior to Superior Court Judge Frank Cuthbertson handing down the sentence.

Sturtz admitted she stole more than $10,000 from her homeowners association in 2010 and another $25,000 from a landscape company she worked for in 2010 and 2011.

Her boss at the landscaping company told detectives he thought Sturtz stole from him in part to pay back the money she took from the homeowners group, court records show.

Before being sentenced, Sturtz told Cuthbertson she has a gambling addiction.

“I’m very sorry,” she said. “I realize I have a gambling problem. It took me over.”

Her defense attorney, Jay Berneburg, and deputy prosecutor Susan Mason agreed to recommend Sturtz be treated as a first-time offender, which gave her a break on sentencing. The standard range for a first-degree theft conviction is two to six months in jail.

Berneburg said his client is “a good mother and grandmother” and, with her family’s help, has made full restitution to the homeowners association and her former employer.

She also has the support of her family and a Gamblers Anonymous chapter, he said. Relatives and chapter members attended her sentencing.

Cuthbertson said he was sympathetic to Sturtz’s addiction.

“It is a terrible disease,” the judge said.

But he warned her that if she came back to his court charged with similar crimes, she’d be headed off to prison.

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644

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