Three-plus years in prison is the sentence for a woman who stole $1.7 million over many years from her employer in southern Minnesota and blew most of it on gambling.
Diane M. Eiler, 48, of Bird Island, Minn., was sentenced last week in federal court in Minneapolis to 3½ years in prison and ordered to make full restitution to AgQuest Financial Services, of Morgan, her employer for more than 15 years until her stealing was revealed.
"Eiler systematically abused the trust of her employer to steal more than $1.7 million," said Assistant United States Attorney Joseph H. Thompson.
Eiler, who pleaded guilty to wire fraud, was the director of accounting at AgQuest, which offers loans and insurance to farmers and other agricultural producers.
From 2007 until 2015, she stole company checks and wrote them out to herself. She created false entries in AgQuest's ledger to disguise the checks as payments to AgQuest customers.
Eiler wrote more than 250 checks to herself and gambled away more than $1.2 million at Jackpot Junction in nearby Morton.
In arguing for a sentence of probation and not incarceration, Eiler's attorney said in a court filing that his client is the "most reliable and generous caregiver possible" for her two grandchildren and that she didn't use the money for a "flashy" lifestyle but for gambling and to pay for her son's drug addiction treatment.
"Eiler has a gambling addiction that overtook her life," the court filing continued. "She just could not stop."
The defense added that Eiler now "attends and actively participates in Gamblers Anonymous."
Prosecutors sought a prison term within the guidelines of 41 to 51 months and pointed out in their legal filing that her decision to embezzle "was not a one-time lapse in judgment; it was a systematic effort to steal from her employer.
"During her eight-year scheme, Eiler stole an average of $17,000 a month. She still would be stealing at that rate if she had not been caught last November."
Eiler spent more than 800 hours at Jackpot Junction in 2009, according to prosecutors. That's the equivalent of more than two hours a day every day of the year.