Photo by Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News Group
                                Shannon Brown appeared in Island County Superior Court Monday with attorney Margot Carter. Brown was sentenced to prison for theft.

Photo by Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News Group Shannon Brown appeared in Island County Superior Court Monday with attorney Margot Carter. Brown was sentenced to prison for theft.

Embezzlement had far-reaching consequences

A woman’s crimes brought a once-thriving business to the brink of bankruptcy, cost people their livelihoods and hurt her family.

Shannon Brown’s decision to embezzle more than $260,000 from a company that treated her like family had “immensely far-reaching consequences,” Suzanne Healy said at a sentencing hearing in Island County Superior Court Monday.

Brown pleaded guilty to five felony theft charges last week and was sentenced to 17 months in prison during a dramatic hearing Monday.

Suzanne and Jack Healy own Artisan Crafted in Langley and hired Brown as the bookkeeper in 2014.

Brown started embezzling money from the business almost immediately in several different schemes.

Brown transferred money to fake vendor accounts she created and made unauthorized charges on the company’s credit card to buy random items online.

“The planning and execution was clever and nothing short of evil,” Jack Healy wrote in his victim impact statement.

After the theft was discovered, Jack and Suzanne Healy were left to clean up a financial mess. Vendors hadn’t been paid and taxes weren’t done correctly.

The couple was forced to lay off employees and dip into their retirement account.

A couple of family members discussed how Brown’s actions hurt her family.

One of the women said she wanted to ensure that Brown gets help with her substance abuse problems, which she had resisted in the past.

Shackled and dressed in jail clothing, Brown apologized at the hearing, saying she was “deeply sorry for what occurred.”

“My bad behavior can’t be excused by my problems at home,” she said. “I’ve used that as a cop out for a really long time and I’m sorry for that.”

In the end, Judge Vickie Churchill also emphasized the far-reaching consequences of Brown’s crimes in handing her the 17-month sentence, which was recommended by the defense and prosecution under the terms of a plea bargain.

“There’s a circle around her of people who have been hurt,” she said.

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