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Jury urges 12-year prison sentence for 85-year-old in embezzlement case

Jury urges 12-year prison sentence for 85-year-old in embezzlement case

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A Fredericksburg jury recommended a 12-year prison sentence Thursday for an 85-year-old woman who, along with her daughter, stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from a city business.

Mary Catherine Parr of Stafford County was convicted of three counts of embezzlement and six counts of passing forged checks at the end of a two-day trial in Fredericksburg Circuit Court. She will be formally sentenced Feb. 5 by Judge Gordon Willis.

According to evidence presented by prosecutor Justin Witt, Parr handled accounts receivable for I.C.E. Heating and Cooling on Central Road between 2013 and April 2018. Her daughter, Janis Lee Bowen, was in charge of accounts payable at the company.

The prosecution evidence showed that the two women stole $886,324 from the company during their employment, though both women insist the total wasn’t nearly that much.

Matthew Miller, the primary owner of the company, said he hired outside help to look over the company’s finances last year after noticing dwindling profits. “I could not figure out where the money was going,” Miller said.

The outside accountant’s findings led to an investigation by the Fredericksburg Police Department that resulted in the arrests of both women. Miller said he was shocked to learn his accountants were stealing from him, saying he got along fine with both women and never suspected them of anything.

The women used a stamp signature to write company checks that ended up in their personal accounts. Parr, who has a criminal record that includes 20 prior theft-related felony convictions dating back to 1974, used stolen money from I.C.E. Heating and Cooling to repay some of the $135,000 she owed from a 2012 grand larceny conviction in Loudoun County.

Bowen, who is serving a six-year prison sentence for her role in the scheme, testified during the trial that she alone was responsible and her mother had nothing to do with it. But Witt pointed out that Parr admitted in an interview with Detective Wayne Hunnicutt that she’d taken about $50,000, and Witt presented emails between the woman that showed Parr was involved.

Attorney Benjamin Burchett is representing Parr.

Keith Epps: 540/374-5404

kepps@freelancestar.com

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