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ND woman sentenced for embezzling $2.8 million from company

BISMARCK -- A woman who federal prosecutors say embezzled more than $2 million from her former employer to often by luxury jewelry was sentenced to 33 months in prison this week. Daphney Harstad appeared in a Bismarck courtroom on Thursday, about...

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Robert Wefald of Bismarck, former North Dakota Attorney General and a retired judge, is chair for the "No on 3" committee opposing the Marsy's Law for North Dakota ballot measure. “This is simply bad constitutional law,” Wefald said Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016, at a Capitol press conference announcing the “No on 3” committee. (Forum News Service photo by Mike Nowatzki)
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BISMARCK -- A woman who federal prosecutors say embezzled more than $2 million from her former employer to often buy luxury jewelry was sentenced to 33 months in prison this week.

Daphney Harstad appeared in a Bismarck courtroom on Thursday, about four months after pleading guilty to wire fraud for stealing money from Borsheim Crane, a heavy equipment company headquartered in Williston.

Harstad, 44, of Williston, is to start serving the term on March 17. U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland recommended she be placed in the Federal Correctional Institution, Waseca, in Minnesota, a low-security center for women inmates.

The sentence includes three years of supervised probation upon release.

Harstad is accused of embezzling about $2.8 million while employed as a bookkeeper and office manager at Borsheim Crane. She used the money to buy luxury jewelry and other items from companies such as Tiffany and Co., Louis Vuitton and Bergdorf Goodman.

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Harstad used her credit card to make purchases online, then paid for the merchandise using checks drawn from company accounts, records say.

An investigation by the FBI uncovered the series of thefts beginning in 2006 and ending in 2014, when Harstad quit her job with Borsheim Crane.

This week’s sentence reflected her willingness to work with authorities, assistant U.S. Attorney Clare Hochhalter said.

“It takes into account the fact that she admitted her offense conduct and cooperated with the investigation early,” he said.

Hovland did not order restitution because Harstad has already given more than $1 million back to the company as a result of a civil suit.

“The victims waived any right to claim any further restitution in a criminal proceeding,” Hochhalter said, adding that Harstad apologized in court to the judge and the victims, who attended the hearing.

Although the civil suit filed in 2014 names Harstad’s mother, who also worked at Borsheim Crane, as an accomplice, there are no further federal charges pending for anyone involved, although federal and state tax authorities are looking into unpaid taxes on the money stolen, Hochhalter said.

Related Topics: CRIME
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