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Salem woman who embezzled from 3 Roanoke Valley businesses gets more prison time for probation violations

Salem woman who embezzled from 3 Roanoke Valley businesses gets more prison time for probation violations

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In total, Melissa Rowe Dillon managed to drain three Roanoke Valley businesses that employed her of just over three-quarters of a million dollars.

And, all told, the price she has now been ordered to pay for those embezzlements has been updated to 17 years in prison.

Melissa Rowe Dillon

Dillon

Last September, Dillon, 55, of Salem pleaded guilty in Roanoke County Circuit Court to nine counts of embezzlement and one count of money laundering. Those charges related to her taking nearly $250,000, across seven years, from a landscaping company and a pest control firm where she had served as an office manager.

She received a 50-year term, with that time to be suspended after she serves a decade behind bars.

But those newer thefts violated Dillon’s ongoing probation on three prior convictions in Roanoke where, in 2008, she pleaded guilty to three counts of embezzlement for taking more than $552,000 from the software company Meridium, where she had long worked as a bookkeeper.

In that matter, she initially got a year in jail but was also carrying 14 years in suspended time.

On Thursday, after finding her in violation of her Roanoke probation, Judge Onzlee Ware revoked half of that amount, adding another seven years to Dillon’s total punishment.

At Meridium, officials have said, she steadily stole a half-million dollars by forging checks.

At the Roanoke County businesses, a prosecutor last year said Dillon used company credit cards for personal expenses such as event tickets, salon appointments and vacations. She also received overtime pay for hours she did not work, and she inflated her health insurance benefits without permission.

During the period when the more recent embezzlements occurred, she was required to pay a minimum of $100 a month in restitution for the $552,000 she owed Meridium. Roanoke assistant prosecutor John McNeil said Thursday it did not appear she had used any of her ill-gotten funds in Roanoke County against that older debt.

At her sentencing last year, a defense attorney argued for a more lenient sentence because Dillon claimed she was a victim of domestic violence and had taken the money to appease her husband and provide for their children.

Judge Charlie Dorsey, who heard that 2020 case, said that he sympathized with her plight, but he also pointed out that she had committed the second series of crimes while knowing she had more than a decade of suspended time hanging over her head, should she be caught.

She is also still liable for $249,350 owed to the Roanoke County businesses.

After her release, Dillon will be on indefinite supervised probation.

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