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Woman Imprisoned, Ordered to Repay $241K Stolen from Boss

December 23, 2016


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Marc Furber, 215.348.6339, mjfurber@buckscounty.org

A Philadelphia woman who methodically stole nearly a quarter-million dollars from a trusting employer over a six-year period was sent to prison last week and ordered to repay her illegal haul.

“The hardness of your heart is almost impossible to contemplate,” Bucks County President Judge Jeffrey L. Finley told Jennifer K. James, who fleeced her boss while he was preoccupied, in part, with taking care of his stroke-disabled wife.

James, 45, pleaded guilty Sept. 28 to multiple felony theft-related charges. Her sentencing was deferred to give her time to start raising restitution money.

At her Dec. 14 sentencing, however, she told Finley that she had no money yet to repay the more than $240,000 that she stole from her victim, 74-year-old Edward Mackin.

“You expect me to swallow your act,” Finley told James before declaring: “The only question I have today is where does she go to prison and is there any chance at all that Mr. Mackin can recover what she stole from him?”

Finley sentenced James to serve one day less than one year to one day less than two years in the Bucks County Women’s Community Corrections Center, plus 10 years of concurrent probation. Finley said he would authorize her to be screened for work release to help her start earning money to repay Mackin.

Mackin told Finley that he had hired James in 2008 to be his executive assistant, responsible for helping him with business and personal matters. Mackin, now retired, was executive vice president of a document management software and services company in Bristol Township that he had co-founded.

Mackin said he entrusted James to handle his personal finances, and that she sometimes helped out with caring for his wife, who had suffered a major stroke in 2004, at his home.

“She did a lot for me,” Mackin said, including helping to plan events such as his 50th wedding anniversary and family funerals. “She was very close to all of us.”

What Mackin didn’t know was that James had, over a period of years, been systematically using credit cards and bank accounts of his that he had thought were closed or inactive to pay her own personal bills.

To help cover her tracks, James falsified 211 entries in fraudulent statements for Mackin’s Wells Fargo checking account.

Mackin first got wind of the thefts when American Express contacted him in November 2014 over an unpaid credit card bill. When Mackin protested that he hadn’t used that card in years, American Express told him that it had been used regularly for months.

Mackin then discovered that the American Express bills had been paid through a Wells Fargo checking account that he had ordered James to close a year earlier.

An examination of his financial records showed that James had been diverting his money to pay the mortgage on a Philadelphia house where she was living, as well as her monthly Comcast, PECO, and credit card bills.

Mackin’s total losses came to $241,038.79. James stole that money in addition to the annual salary of about $50,000 that Mackin paid her.

“It was just devastating, frankly, to find out all the stuff that was going on,” Mackin said. James had ruined his credit rating and made it difficult for him to trust anyone new with his financial affairs, he said.

“The thought of hiring someone now to do that kind of thing is scary,” he said.

James did not fully explain what she did with all of Mackin’s money, saying that some of it went to pay for her stepfather’s funeral and to pay the mortgage on her stepfather's house after he died in 2008.

Getting caught, she said, was a relief, “because I’ve carried a lot of guilt.” Mackin and his family “were very good to me and I betrayed them,” she said

James told Finley that the house in which she lives is up for sale by her stepbrother, and that she would be able to pay at least $100,000 of her restitution after it is sold.

“You may pay him back,” the judge said, “but you will never repay him for the betrayal and harm because of the trust he placed in you.”

The case was investigated by Bucks County Detective Eric Landamia and Bristol Township Detective William O’Keefe, and prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Marc Furber.

Approved for release by Gregg Shore, Deputy District Attorney.

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