Judge throws the book at former-school district bookkeeper

  • Jim Haley<br>For the Enterprise
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 6:55am

She’s not a bank robber, but a judge said he’s hard-pressed to see the distinction between robbing a bank and Victoria Lee Lewin’s embezzlement of $143,000 from the Edmonds School District.

Snohomish Country Superior Court Judge George Bowden on Monday, June 20, sentenced Lewin, 56, of Lynnwood, to 13 months in state prison. The term is an extraordinarily long prison stint for theft.

Lewin, a former district bookkeeper, has no criminal history, and she stood to spend just three months or less in the county jail under the state’s sentencing laws.

By law, Bowden was able to go beyond the standard sentencing range because Lewin had agreed that what she did was a major economic offense against the school district.

Deputy prosecutor Adam Cornell asked for only four months in jail. Lynnwood defense lawyer Michael Mulvihill recommended three months or less.

Bowden acknowledged that Lewin cooperated with school officials and the state auditor when the theft was discovered. She also pleaded guilty, saving the state the expense of a trial.

“Candidly, that saved you a considerable amount of time,” Bowden told her.

After imposing the surprise prison term, Bowden said “I do not do so lightly. I do so because of the magnitude of the crime.”

Prosecutors charged her with first-degree theft for siphoning cash from district revenue sources to her private use between 1998 and 2002. It is unclear how she spent the money.

An accounts receivable bookkeeper, Lewin was a school district employee for 12 years. As part of her job, she received cash and checks from schools and other departments within the district.

She admitted taking from departments that usually don’t keep close tabs on their books, court documents said.

Among other things, she took money paid by parents for after-school care and stole payments from other school districts for special education students taught within the Edmonds schools, said Marla Miller, a district director for business and operations.

Since Lewin was charged, the district has implemented new procedures to prevent a repeat, Miller said.

Lewin “literally stole educational opportunities for children,” Miller told the judge.

Outside of court, she said “the taxpayers need to understand that she was held accountable.”

Besides prison, Lewin is obligated to pay back a big chunk of the money.

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