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Former WCCC bookstore employee pleads guilty in thefts

By Renatta Signorini, Tribune-Review, Greensburg, Pa.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

July 03--More than $116,000 in restitution is being sought from a former Westmoreland County Community College employee who pleaded guilty Wednesday to bilking the school.

Susan Lorraine Brown, 59, of Mt. Pleasant, entered a general plea to the five counts against her before Judge Debra Pezze.

She allegedly bilked the school by falsifying textbook returns and pocketing the money while working as a bookstore employee, according to county detectives.

"She has always admitted to taking some of the money, but not all," attorney Jeffrey Monzo told Pezze.

District Attorney John Peck said $116,915 in restitution is being sought by the college and its insurance company.

Pezze will sentence Brown after 90 days. Pezze told Brown that the standard sentence for the charges is nine to 16 months, but Brown faces up to seven years imprisonment.

She pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor count of tampering with records and felony charges of receiving stolen property, theft by unlawful taking and two counts of theft by deception.

"You pretended those textbooks were being returned and you took the money yourself," Pezze said.

Brown was promoted from full-time clerk to assistant manager and about a month later allegedly began the scheme that began in 2008 and ended in February 2012, police said.

Investigators allege that Brown began ringing up textbook refunds on the cash register, taking the cash for herself, then logging in on a computer system as an administrator to manually adjust the inventory to match the number of books in stock, according to court papers. She was a 20-year bookstore employee.

The scam unraveled after a bookstore manager in February 2012 saw Brown on a security camera take cash from the register and put it into her pocket before leaving for the day, according to court papers.

An accountant hired by the college traced 213 fraudulent transactions to Brown, police said.

A date for the sentencing hearing has not been set.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or [email protected].

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