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Former employee to repay Roanoke business $416K for embezzlement

Former employee to repay Roanoke business $416K for embezzlement

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A former employee of a Roanoke printing company who was found guilty of taking money from the business will be ordered to repay close to a half-million dollars when he’s sentenced this summer.

That’s part of the court agreement struck by Brian Lee Wallace, 43, who on Tuesday pleaded no contest to two counts of embezzlement from Chocklett Press. Seven other criminal charges were dropped.

Wallace served as the company’s IT manager and chief financial officer, according to statements made at the hearing.

He was paid an average of $120,000 a year, defense attorney Robert Rider said.

“They had placed complete trust in Mr. Wallace to handle financial matters,” Roanoke Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Andrew Stephens told Judge William Broadhurst. “He had full access to Chocklett Press’ accounts.”

Wallace faces a combined maximum of 40 years in prison when he’s sentenced, but there is no set agreement on the time he will have to serve. Broadhurst will determine the full punishment on Sept. 19.

What has been stipulated is that Wallace will be liable for about $416,000 in restitution.

Stephens said the company had been struggling for nearly a decade when it came to light last summer that Wallace had misused a company credit card, written unauthorized checks and, in paying his own salary, made oversized wire transfers into a personal account.

A combination of alcohol, gambling and divorce “was impacting his decision-making at the time,” Stephens said in court. “He said he assumed he would be caught and it snowballed.”

The company’s vice president has said Wallace had been with the business for about 20 years but left in 2015. But he continued working for them on a contract basis, Stephens said, and last year advised them to take out a $90,000 loan, a sum from which he also siphoned money.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Wallace told Broadhurst he had recently undergone a liver transplant and was taking “a laundry list of medications.”

Rider said afterward that Wallace had the procedure in March and is still recovering. He remains free on bond.

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