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Indian American executive sentenced in $34-mn fraud

Last updated on: November 18, 2010 16:05 IST

Indian American executive sentenced in $34-mn fraud

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Seema Hakhu Kachru in Houston

A former Indian-American executive of Koss Corporation was sentenced to 11 years in prison on Thursday for embezzling $34 million from the Milwaukee headphones maker.

Sujata 'Sue' Sachdeva, the company's former vice president of finance, had pleaded guilty to using company funds to pay her personal bills.

Forty-seven-year-old Sachdeva admitted running up expensive bills at Milwaukee-area companies.

US District Judge Lynn Adelman imposed the sentence after Sachdeva made a tearful statement -- her first public comments since her arrest 11 months ago.

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Image: Sujata 'Sue' Sachdeva.

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Before being sentenced, Sachdeva apologised to her family, friends and former Koss colleagues.

"I know you were deeply hurt by my dishonesty in ways I never imagined or intended. . .I have lost everything that is dear to me, my marriage, my children, my career, my home and my freedom," she said.

Judge Adelman said that the sentence sought by Sachdeva was 'simply not long enough' given the size of the theft and abuse of trust.

"This is a case where she just stole a lot of money. The loss amount is what makes this so serious," Adelman said and sentenced her to 11 years in prison.

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Sachdeva's attorney Michael F Hart said he felt the sentence was fair, and that his client agreed.

Asked why she committed the crimes, Hart responded: "She's sick. There's no other way to say it.

"In a statement filed with the court on Wednesday, Hart argued that Sachdeva is not a future danger to society, and that she has cooperated with investigators."

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He asked Adelman to consider her circumstances and said the situation justified a departure from federal sentencing guidelines that put her offense at a high level because of the amount involved.

Sachdeva's theft from the company happened as the result of her desperation to pay her shopping bills, to keep her panic under control, Hart argued.

"In simple terms, she made the purchases first, then used Koss funds to pay for them in a catch-as-catch-can manner," he wrote.

Sachdeva did not keep track of the amounts, he said.

"She had all of her personal bills sent to the office, and just opening the bills would cause her to go gaga, break into a heavy sweat and have trouble breathing," Hart wrote.



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