The Kenai bookkeeper charged with 111 criminal counts involving embezzlement of more than $150,000 pleaded guilty to four felony charges, eliminating the need for a jury trial that had been scheduled to begin Monday morning.
Sheryl Dilley, 37, entered guilty pleas on first-degree theft and scheme to defraud charges class B felonies and tampering with physical evidence and falsifying business records class C felonies.
She can be sentenced to serve four to seven years in jail on each of the class B felonies and two to four years on each of the class C felonies. Sentencing has been set for 2:30 p.m., Oct. 9.
Dilley was ordered to begin serving jail time Friday, even before being formally sentenced.
Superior Court Judge Peter Ashman also scheduled a restitution hearing for 8:30 a.m., Aug. 10.
In exchange for her guilty pleas, the state dropped more than 100 charges of second-degree check forgery.
Dilley was arrested by Kenai Police on March 26 after an investigation revealed she had stolen $154,206 from three Kenai firms for which she kept books: Salamatof Seafoods, M & P Trucking and BAS Leasing. She reportedly forged more than 100 company checks between January 2002 and March of this year.
On Monday, Dilley and her attorney, John Pharr of Anchorage, as well as Kenai District Attorney June Stein showed up in Kenai court ready to begin jury selection.
About 10 minutes into the proceeding, however, Pharr told the court his client was ready to resolve the matter by plea bargain.
Stein asked Ashman to allow her and Pharr the opportunity to sit face-to-face and discuss an arrangement.
When they re-entered the courtroom about a half hour later, the judge said, "I understand the defendant plans to plea to (four) of the charges, theft in the first degree, scheme to defraud, tampering (with physical evidence) and falsifying (business) records."
He then questioned Dilley directly to be sure she understood she is giving up her right to a jury trial and her right to appeal.
He informed her that the maximum sentence allowed by state statute is 10 years imprisonment and a $100,000 fine for each of the class B felonies and five years and $50,000 on the class C felonies. He also listed three aggravators that could lengthen the sentence to the maximum including having been convicted of "prior crimes of the same nature."
"You agree you will begin serving your sentence Friday, July 13; you will make restitution; you will forfeit your Alaska Permanent Fund (Dividends) to make restitution; you will be placed on probation for 10 years," Ashman said.
"In exchange, the state will dismiss all other charges against you. Do you agree?" he asked.
"Yes, sir," Dilley said.
Ashman also ordered that Dilley's bail remain in place until Friday and that she continue to be supervised by a court-approved third-party custodian until then.
When asked about the terms of the plea arrangement after the hearing, Pharr said, "That's as good as it gets."
He also said he would ask that Dilley's sentences on the four counts be served concurrently, rather than one after the other.
That will be up to the court to decide in October.
Phil Hermanek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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