Woman gets probation time for embezzlement

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Nico Savidge
Wednesday, October 23, 2013

JANESVILLE—As she started to read a statement Wednesday afternoon in Rock County Court, Michelle Buggs looked over to the prosecution's table at the man whose company she ripped off for thousands of dollars.

“You didn't deserve this,” Buggs told Doug Kelly, the owner of Janesville Brick and Tile.

Buggs, 46, of Janesville spoke through tears and nerves as she had for much of the hearing, where she pleaded guilty to one felony count of theft in a business setting of more than $10,000.

A few minutes later, Judge James Daley sentenced Buggs to five years of probation  and ordered her to repay more than $50,000, which she embezzled from Janesville Brick and Tile along with another woman.

If she doesn't follow her probation and pay Kelly's company back, she faces eight months in the Rock County Jail.

Wednesday's hearing brought an end to the criminal side of a saga that started when Buggs and Connie Corcoran started embezzling money from Janesville Brick and Tile, where they both worked.

The thefts jeopardized Kelly's business and forced him to take out a mortgage on his home, he told the court Wednesday. Missing that money compounded the effects of the 2008 recession, Kelly said, forcing the company to downsize.

“Today adds closure to an unbelievable experience suffered by our company, my family and our employees,” Kelly said.

Corcoran forged 105 checks for herself and stole more than $240,000 from the company. Judge Richard Werner sentenced her to five years in prison Aug. 2.

Buggs embezzled less from the company—$53,547 between 2007 and 2008 from 15 forged checks.

“Two people put our lives on hold indefinitely, and the defendant is one of them,” Kelly said.

Buggs pleaded guilty to the embezzlement charge as part of an agreement that saw a second felony count dismissed but read into the record.

Daley's sentence followed a joint recommendation from prosecutors and Buggs' attorney, Philip Brehm. Daley told Buggs he withheld the jail time because she has no criminal history.

His sentence came with a warning, however, that Buggs consider what led her to steal from the company and use her time on probation to regain the trust of those people she hurt.

“You're going to have to figure out why you did it to avoid doing it again in the future,” Daley said. “Unless you know what … caused you to do this—I mean really know—you're still a danger to the public.”

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