A Monroe woman convicted of stealing thousands of dollars from her previous Columbus employer was recently sentenced to spend the next two to four years in the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women in York.
Jennifer A. Held, 46, on Dec. 28, 2018, was present in Platte County District Court before Judge Robert Steinke to learn her fate regarding the case in which she was accused of embezzling just under $87,000 from a small electronics business located in the 2800 block of 33rd Avenue, according to court records.
The defendant pleaded no contest and was found guilty of theft by deception in the amount of $5,000 or more, a Class IIA felony. If prosecuted to the full extent of the law Held could have faced a maximum of 20 years in prison. Four additional charges were dropped: Three counts of second-degree forgery, Class III felonies; which the court determined the defendant was improperly charged upon, and one count of theft by deception, according to Platte County Public Defender Tim Matas.
As part of her sentence and conviction, Steinke ordered the defendant to pay $40,899.15 in restitution. The payments are required to be made in $700 increments over a 60-month course until the full-dollar amount is paid, according to a journal entry completed by Steinke. The payments will begin the first day of the new month following Held’s release from prison.
Held was arrested in March 2018 after Columbus Police Department Sgt. Bret Strecker responded to her employer’s business in regard to a theft. Upon arrival, Strecker was presented with two checks that were written on the owner's business account to employee Jennifer Held, according to a warrantless arrest affidavit.
The checks, the business owner said, were not authorized and were not her regular payroll checks. Looking into business bank accounts, the owner learned there were a large number of checks that Held had written to herself that weren’t authorized.
Receiving bank records from 2015-2016, the affidavit states Strecker was able to identify a large number out unauthorized checks written on the business owner’s account. The checks were made out to Jennifer Couts – Held’s maiden name prior to being married in August 2017. Following her marriage, court records show checks were made out to Jennifer Held. From April 3, 2015, through March 17, 2018, court records show the defendant allegedly stole $86,808.
After being confronted about the theft by police when she arrived at work on March 17, the affidavit shows that Held acknowledged writing extra checks to herself, but said that she had no idea when it started or how much money was taken overall.
Court records show that Held told law enforcement that she used the money to pay bills, indicating she did not receive enough money from her job to cover them.
Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com.