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February 13, 2018

$79,300 embezzlement nets two years in state prison

Margie S. Ryder’s theft and failure to make payroll deposits cost Warrenton Heating & Air Conditioning more than $240,000, according to the prosecution.
I’ve made no secret of my disdain for these crimes . . . . It seems to suggest no conscious at all.
— Judge Jeffrey W. Parker
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The judge Tuesday afternoon expressed no sympathy for a Linden woman whose crimes cost a small Warrenton business $240,000.

Margie Susan Ryder, 38, will spend two years in prison for embezzling $79,300 from Warrenton Heating & Air Conditioning during a 22-month period, beginning in April 2015.

But, in pronouncing the sentence, Judge Jeffrey W. Parker said Ms. Ryder’s damage far exceeded that amount.

“I’ve made no secret of my disdain for these crimes,” Judge Parker said in Fauquier County Circuit Court. “People who operate small businesses . . . deal on a firsthand basis with people who steal from them (in embezzlement cases).

“It seems to suggest no conscious at all.”

Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Jamey E. Cook asked for a tough sentence.

“What she was was a liar and a thief,” Ms. Cook said of the defendant, who pleaded guilty in December. “She had been stealing from him for years . . . back to 2011.”

Ms. Ryder, who worked full-time as a federal government employee making $74,000 a year, not only stole from business owner Philip Rutter. She failed to make tax and Social Security payments, resulting in huge penalties, according to the prosecutor.

Mr. Rutter, 71, had hoped to plan for retirement but instead had to secure a line of credit to pay the Internal Revenue Service and Social Security Administration, Ms. Cook told the judge before sentencing.

“She not only stole from the business, she stole from the employees,” Ms. Cook added.

Mr. Rutter has four employees, he said Tuesday.

Ms. Ryder came to work part-time for the business in 2009, helping Mr. Rutter’s mother with bookkeeping. After the death of his mother in 2011, Ms. Ryder took over the company finances, Mr. Rutter said. “That’s when the trouble started.”

Supposedly paid $200 a week, she began taking twice that much. Her failure to make the tax and Social Security deposits kept the general ledger’s bottom line looking OK, said the business owner, who trusted her while he worked in the field.

When the company began getting late payment notices and letters from the IRS, Ms. Ryder blamed the federal bureaucracy and “computer problems.”

Ms. Cook said of the defendant: “She was doing everything she could to deceive Mr. Rutter . . . . She lied to him and tried to blame the IRS . . . .

“All the while, she was riding around on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle that she bought in 2016 and a Ford pickup truck that she bought in 2016.”

But, the business owner last year went to his bank and began an investigation that produced the embezzlement charges.

In addition to the losses and penalties, Mr. Rutter also has spent more for an accountant and a lawyer to deal with the situation. But, his prospects for recovering any money from Ms. Ryder seem remote. She has filed for personal bankruptcy, according to the prosecutor.

Still, the judge ordered restitution of $79,300. An insurance company paid Mr. Rutter’s business $10,000 for the loss and will get that amount from restitution, if paid.

Judge Parker sentenced Ms. Ryder to 10 years in prison but suspended eight years and ordered probation after her release.

She said nothing before the judge pronounced the sentence. Defense attorney Mark Williams asked only that the judge consider Ms. Ryder’s lack of a prior criminal record and “health conditions . . . and a heart ailment.”

Judge Parker read a list of amounts owed the IRS: “$10,600, $10,957, $12,444, $13,375 . . . . It’s just staggering in my opinion.

“We know what these kind of numbers mean,” the judge added.

“I was pleased that she stepped up to the plate and admitted her guilt,” Mr. Rutter said outside the courtroom. “She had denied it before . . . .

“Uncle Sam is tearing me up. It wasn’t my money she stole; it was my employee’s money.”

Finally, he said: “I’m pleased.”
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