A former manager for Salem Printing has been convicted of taking money from the business, and while he won’t have to serve time on his criminal convictions, he now must repay nearly $80,000. He also faces two pending civil lawsuits.
John Samuel Mitchell III, 44, pleaded guilty Friday in Salem Circuit Court to three counts of embezzlement and one count of forgery.
Through his agreement, he avoided an active prison sentence but will be on probation until he pays $76,216.
In the meantime, he carries 20 years in suspended time, five from each count.
“Let me be clear,” Judge Chris Clemens told Mitchell after approving the deal. “If you don’t pay this restitution back, a judge is going to put you in jail.”
Last week, Mitchell tendered a check for $10,000 against the outstanding balance, according to Salem Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Bowers.
Also as part of the agreement, prosecutors agreed not to pursue 22 additional counts of embezzlement he had faced, dating from 2018 and 2019. Financial discrepancies came to light later in 2019.
Soon after that, criminal charges were filed and Mitchell was terminated from his role with the printing company, court documents show.
At Friday’s plea hearing, Bowers told the court that the forgery charge resulted from a loan Mitchell took out improperly, under the company’s name. The embezzlement charges largely stemmed from Mitchell’s use of company finances for personal expenses, Bowers said.
Earlier this month, Mitchell was named as the defendant in civil suits filed by M&M Real Property and Salem Printing. Mitchell and Susan Marchon, who is his former mother-in-law, were partners in M&M, which bought Salem Printing in 2015, but Marchon was the sole owner of the printing business.
Both suits allege that Mitchell committed fraud and breach of fiduciary duties.
The suit by Salem Printing claims that Mitchell took out two loans, improperly and under that company’s name, totaling $89,085, and that he also failed to pay $69,906 in various business taxes across 2018 and 2019, incurring additional fees, penalties and interest. It seeks $150,000 in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages.
M&M’s lawsuit maintains that between 2016 and 2018, Mitchell embezzled $35,031 from the company’s account for personal use. It also accuses him of not paying nearly $15,000 in property taxes, and subsequently drawing $4,448 in penalties, interest and attorney’s fees, putting the total loss at just under $39,500. That suit asks for $65,000 in compensatory damages and also requests $350,000 in punitive damages.
No court date has been set on the civil cases, and Marchon’s attorney, Francis “Chip” Casola, said he was not yet able to comment on the matters.
It is not clear whether Mitchell has representation on the lawsuits. His criminal defense attorney, Emmette Pilgreen, did not immediately respond to a message left on Monday.
With regard to Mitchell’s criminal case, a version of his plea agreement was put forth in court once before, in May, but Judge William Broadhurst rejected it without comment soon after learning that it involved no incarceration.
On Monday, Bowers said Marchon approved of the final agreement, which he said enhances Mitchell’s ability to pay the restitution.
“She wasn’t against him going to jail, but she was OK if she started getting money back,” he said.
“It’s my understanding he is no longer involved in any of the business,” Bowers added.