- Associated Press - Friday, March 17, 2017

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Police said an Omaha woman embezzled more than $1.2 million from her employer and blew it gambling at casinos.

Annie Carbullido, 79, pleaded no contest Tuesday to two counts of theft by deception and two counts of tax evasion. Her sentencing is scheduled for May 17, the Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/2nz5djb ) reported.

Investigators said Carbullido was a bookkeeper at Travel Faire Inc. and repeatedly wrote checks for cash, hiding her theft as expenses so she could obtain money for gambling. A court affidavit said Carbullido had gambled and lost roughly $1.9 million since 2003 at the Ameristar Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Carbullido’s attorney, Steve Lefler, said he hopes the judge will take into account his client’s years of solid citizenship and health concerns.

“We are hoping that the judge recognizes that our client has not just been a good citizen but a great citizen her entire life,” he said. “Given her age and her medical condition … we’re hoping that the judge decides that probation is the better option.”

Travel Faire’s owners discovered the theft last summer after they hired a temporary employee to replace Carbullido while she takes a medical leave of absence. A police investigation revealed the temporary employee found several checks written by Carbullido to “cash.” Authorities then received information about Carbullido after contacting the casinos.

“It’s a real issue and a real problem - and there’s a lot of good people who have gone down that path,” he said of the gambling. “Just a lot of really sad stories. Good people, successful people. From their experience, I can tell you - gambling is as addictive or more addictive than most of the drugs that are out there. The grip is real.”

Carbullido could be sentenced to up to five years of probation or up to 50 years in prison. She is currently out on bail.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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