WOONSOCKET – Former city employee Michelle Giguere admitted to embezzling over $7,714 from the municipal treasury during a hearing in Superior Court on Wednesday.
Magistrate Susan Kenney ordered Giguere to serve a suspended sentence of three years and to repay the money she stole.
Finance Director Thomas M. Bruce III said he was satisfied that the punishment fits the crime and praised Giguere’s co-workers for blowing the whistle on her when they suspected Giguere of mishandling money.
“The accounting controls only go so far in red-flagging this type of misconduct,” said Bruce. “If it wasn’t for the staff coming forward with information we would not have been able to identify this behavior for the police to prosecute.”
Giguere, 42, of 59 Bradley St., had worked for the city for seven years and held the position of collections clerk before she was terminated. Bruce said she had direct access to funds residents turned in to pay utility bills and property taxes.
A forensic audit revealed that Giguere was skimming cash and trying to conceal her misdeeds retroactively with incoming checks. The Woonsocket police formally charged her on Sept. 9, 2011.
“It’s sad,” said Bruce. “With this one exception she was a good employee for several years.”
Giguere entered a plea of no contest Wednesday to one count each of embezzlement and accessing a computer for fraudulent purposes. State prosecutors dismissed three other charges, including wrongful conversion over $100, unlawful appropriation over $1,000 and illegally accessing a computer, according to Emily Martineau, spokeswoman for the attorney general.
As part of a negotiated settlement with state prosecutors, Giguere agreed to repay the city all the missing money and made a down payment of $4,000 toward the tab on the same day she was sentenced, Martineau said.
Giguere agreed to pay the balance in monthly installments of $114, which means the debt will be satisfied in 30 months.
Giguere’s was one of two embezzlement cases – and by far the least serious – to surface at City Hall last fall.
Longtime Municipal Court Aide Rachel Arruda is facing charges of unlawfully siphoning nearly $390,000 from city coffers between 2004 and 2010, shortly before she retired. She faces one count each of felony embezzlement and fraudulent conversion.
State law carries the same sentence on both of the charges – a maximum 20 years in jail and a fine of $50,000, or three times the sum of money involved, whichever is greater.
Free on personal recognizance, the 63-year-old Woonsocket resident has appeared in court for a number of preliminary hearings on the charges and is due for another on Oct. 31.