Clendenning receives lengthy prison sentence
April 14, 2015
A former employee of the Fallon Auto Mall received up to 20 years in prison for embezzling more than $200,000 from the business.
Debra Clendenning pleaded guilty earlier this year to two counts of embezzlement of $3,500 or more and received four to 10 years for each count to run consecutively Tuesday in District Court. She was also ordered to pay $158,151.27 in restitution.
Churchill County Chief Deputy District Attorney Lane Mills detailed Clendenning's criminal acts and how she betrayed the trust of her employer of 19 years. He listed nearly two pages of transactions by Clendenning in May 2013 detailing thousands of dollars of theft painting the depth of her acts.
Mills argued Clendenning should not receive the minimum sentence, which would amount to about two years in prison for "a couple hundred thousand" dollars stolen.
Kurt Henning, co-owner of Fallon Auto Mall, said he felt "very embarrassed" and "sickened" by his former employee's actions. In addition, he said a message must be sent to the community that crime doesn't pay.
Henning and his employees discovered the crimes last summer through an internal investigation. As a result, he testified Clendenning stole "way over $200,000 that we know of."
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"We are a family and we placed a lot of faith in her," Henning added.
Henning said if Clendenning doesn't serve at least six years for the crimes, the message would be crime pays. Henning added restitution could be withheld until she is released from prison, but the point was an individual must be held accountable for their actions.
"I understand how sorry she is, but this community is watching," Henning said. "We have to send a message that crime doesn't pay."
Clendenning, meanwhile, said she spun out of control due to a gambling addiction, although speaking through tears, apologized numerous times to the Henning family, who owns the business, and several other employees in the gallery.
"I totally betrayed the people who loved me, and I am totally remorseful," she said.
Her attorney, David Neidert, offered the court an alternate sentence, which included a suspended sentence of four to 10 years, serve 60 days in the Churchill County Jail, undergo and follow any recommendations from a psychological evaluation, be barred from any business where gaming is its primary source of income and make steady restitution payments.
Neidert also detailed his client's sorrow for her actions.
Tenth Judicial District Court Judge Tom Stockard said Neidert, along with a letter sent to the court on Clendenning's behalf, made for a compelling case, but the breadth of her actions were too much to warrant a suspended sentence.
"There is a price to pay in the case," Stockard said.