BRADENTON -- A former Cox Chevrolet title clerk who defrauded her employer of over more than $92,000 by issuing rebates checks in customer's names and depositing them into her own account was sentenced to three years prison.
Tanya Marie Haun, 35, pleaded no contest on Nov. 10 to a charge of scheming to defraud more than $50,000.
On Friday morning, an apologetic Haun appeared before Circuit Judge Deno Economou who heard from attorneys and the detective on the case in addition to the defendant.
"You were right that you said you hurt a lot of people that cared about you. You have," Economou told her. "But you also violated trust of people who trusted you. Everyone suffers, family, friends, but what I find disappointing is that this occurred over three years, it wasn't something that happened one, two, three, four times. It happened over the course of three years, 234 checks of people who were innocent."
Economou sentenced her to three years in prison followed by probation. He also ordered her to pay more than $92,000 in restitution. Haun will be required to make monthly installments of $300 after she is released from prison.
"You have to be responsible for your actions," Economou said. "You have taken a step in the right direction but that doesn't absolve you of what you did."
Defense attorney John B. Baez asked the judge to take into consideration that his client had taken full responsibility for what she had done. Immediately following her arrest, she began saving money to repay what she stole and had about $5,000 on Friday that she was prepared to pay towards restitution.
Haun read a letter out loud that she had written to the Cox family, apologizing and explaining what led her to steal when she struggled with her finances. A second , she said, would have taken her away from her two children.
"I am no way making excuses. There are no excuses," Haun said. "I should have gotten that second job. I made a horrible decision."
It took three years for Haun to get caught.
"It was detected through the banking systems," detective Greg Dunlap said. "The people weren't on her account. Over a period of time it raised a flag."
Assistant State Attorney Lisa Chittaro said the money stolen was used at least in part on luxury items such as fast food and renting RedBox movies.
"She was in a position of trust, she abused that position, she exploited it," Chittaro said.
Before wishing her luck, Economou let Haun know that he had taken into account how cooperative she had been and the effort she made in starting to save money to pay back what she stole. Without that, she would have been facing a lot more time in prison, he said.
Haun was fingerprinted and handcuffed as family members sobbed quietly. She turned to say "I love you guys" as she was escorted out.
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter@JDeLeon1012.