Land O'Lakes worker gets prison for embezzling $1M

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 29, 2012 - 7:42 PM

"Pathological gambler" stole from Land O'Lakes.

A onetime payroll supervisor for Land O'Lakes Inc. has been sentenced to more than two years in prison for embezzling more than $1 million to feed her addiction as a "pathological gambler" and cover other personal expenses.

Cynthia C. Jacobsen, 58, of Brooklyn Park, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in St. Paul to two years and two months in prison and ordered to pay $1,035,955.58 in restitution. Jacobsen pleaded guilty in July to mail fraud.

In her plea agreement, Jacobsen acknowledged that from 2008 until May 2012, she entered her daughter's name into the Arden Hills dairy company's payment system as a vendor and authorized 489 payments to her. The checks were mailed to Jacobsen's home, where she and her daughter lived.

Jacobsen forged her daughter's signature, then "cashed the checks and used the money on various items including gambling," federal prosecutor Chris Wilton wrote in a presentencing filing with the court. "It is clear that the defendant has personal issues including a very real addiction to gambling."

The defense explained in its presentencing filing that Jacobsen sought an escape in casino gambling after her son-in-law died on Valentine's Day 2008 following a diabetic coma. Jacobsen's income dropped when she missed work because of knee surgery.

"Ms. Jacobsen's gambling quickly spiraled out of control," defense attorney James Becker wrote. "Although spending time in casinos was a somewhat effective respite from her real-world problems, her gambling habit added to them, and she soon was having difficulty covering even basic expenses."

Desperation, Becker added, forced Jacobsen to steal from her employer.

After her embezzlement was exposed, Jacobsen was assessed and deemed to be "a pathological gambler," Becker continued. He said she has been participating in Gamblers Anonymous and "is committed to recovering from her disease."

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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