- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 11, 2002

When Cynthia M. Shacklette admitted in court in April 2000 that she had stolen nearly $700,000 from a former employer, she neglected to mention one thing: She had stolen more than $300,000 from her current employer.

The Fredericksburg, Va., woman was sentenced May 3 to 33 months in federal prison for stealing from a doctors' office where she worked while she was on pretrial release on similar charges dating to 1995.

According to court documents, Shacklette, 41, had been sentenced to 18 months in federal prison on July 7, 2000 for diverting 116 checks from company clients while working as office manager of the White House Writers Group, a D.C. public relations company.

For nearly three years, beginning in 1995, the checks, which totaled $663,202.86, were deposited into an account Shacklette had opened at a bank in Fredericksburg two months after she got the job.

Shacklette, a mother of two, used the nearly $20,000 a month she stole to buy luxury items, including $44,000 for a house in Spotsylvania County and nearly $25,000 for a luxury car and a sport utility vehicle. She also spent almost $70,000 on jewelry.

The missing checks were detected during an internal audit, and Shacklette became the subject of an FBI investigation in late 1998.

When she applied for a job as an office manager and bookkeeper at Plastic Surgery Services of Fredericksburg in April 1999, Shacklette did not mention the embezzlement investigation.

The doctors' office didn't find out about her crime until 15 months later after she was charged, reached a plea agreement and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

According to court records, the doctors' office then began its own audit and discovered that Shacklette had been forging the signature of one physician on company checks and making unauthorized charges on the company credit card for more than a year.

Beginning in May 1999 and continuing through her sentencing in July 2000, she had forged 391 checks totaling $271,651 and made $58,374 in unauthorized charges.

The forged checks and unauthorized charges included payments to her attorney for legal bills, a lengthy list of department stores and the Fredericksburg Christian School, which her children attended. Some of the money was used to purchase an 18-carat white gold solitaire diamond ring and NASCAR Daytona 500 race tickets.

A representative from the doctors' office declined to comment on Shacklette's employment, her sentencing or how the stolen money went undetected for so long.

According to a report prepared for the court, prosecutors were appalled that Shacklette continued to steal after pleading guilty to a similar crime.

"She clearly has no respect for the law or for this court," federal prosecutor Kathleen M. Kahoe wrote last month.

As part of her punishment, Shacklette has been ordered to pay $200 a month in restitution. At that rate, she would repay the money in just over 400 years.

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