AP NEWS

Attorney: Bookkeeper with ‘shopping compulsion’ stole $303K

January 22, 2020 GMT

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi bookkeeper is accused of embezzling $303,000 from her employer to make online purchases because she had a “shopping compulsion,” according to court testimony from her attorney Tuesday.

Elizabeth Rose O’Neil, 36, and her attorney said in Circuit Court in Biloxi that she stole $1,400 to $1,600 a week over a five-year period while working for J.O. Collins Contractor Inc. She disguised the payments as business expenses but funneled the money into her personal account, testimony revealed.

The losses were discovered through a company audit, The Biloxi Sun Herald reported.

O’Neil admitted to the company’s owner what she had done, then asked if she could keep her job, her attorney, Don Rafferty, told Judge Larry Bourgeois on Tuesday. Rafferty added that she spent the money on personal purchases because she had a shopping problem.

O’Neil faces up to 20 years in prison at a March sentencing, but the District Attorney’s Office is recommending she serve five years under house arrest and repay the victims.