Thursday, February 5, 2015

Employee Sentenced to 20 Years for Stealing From Modspace Modular in PA

Joyce Lynn Hawkins
The West Goshen, PA woman who treated the company that employed her as her “personal piggy bank” — stealing more than $1 million from it while being paid an annual salary of $200,000 and indirectly costing dozens of fellow employees their jobs — was sentenced to state prison on theft charges Tuesday.

Common Pleas Judge William P. Mahon, at the conclusion of a two-hour sentencing proceeding during which he raised questions about the defendant’s attempt to pay back the money she stole, sentenced Joyce Lynn Hawkins of 80 to 240 months in state prison, plus five years’ consecutive probation.

Mahon, who had warned Hawkins when she pleaded guilty to the charges against her in October that his ultimate sentence would depend in part of her restitution efforts, ordered her to repay $1,038,183 to ModSpace, the Tredyffrin company where she worked as director of employee benefits and compensation.

The amount of prison time came close to what the prosecution had asked Mahon to impose. Assistant District Attorney Anthony Rock, who prosecuted the case and called Hawkins’ crimes “unabated greed,” said his office was “very pleased” with Mahon’s decision to send Hawkins to state prison, rather than sentence her to a jail term in Chester County Prison, as Hawkins’ attorney had urged.

A spokesman for ModSpace who attended the hearing before Mahon in the county Justice Center, pronounced the company gratified with Mahon’s handling of the case.

“We are satisfied that justice has been done,” said James Sheets, the company’s vice president and general counsel, outside the courtroom after Hawkins had been led out in handcuffs by sheriff’s deputies.

“For Joyce and people like her, this is a good message that they have to suffer the consequences of their actions,” said Sheets, who was accompanied by other ModSpace employees at the proceeding.

One of those, Ellen Edmonds, who discovered the thefts and conducted an in-house investigation of Hawkins’ role in them, told Mahon that even though Hawkins had long ago stopped working at the company, her crimes still had an impact on the everyday life of the firm.

In the period of time when Hawkins’ thefts were at their peak, the company — which makes modular structures — was forced to lay off about 100 workers.

“Some of those employees could have kept their jobs were it not for Joyce’s thefts,” Edmonds said.

For her part, Hawkins offered a tearful apology, and begged Mahon to show her leniency.

“I am ashamed of my behavior, and take full responsibility for my actions,” said Hawkins, standing before the judge, dressed in a conservative black pants suit and reading from a prepared statement.

“I am truly remorseful, and am sorry for the harm I have caused others,” the 60-year-old said. “I can only hope I can be forgiven by those who truly know me. I will never forgive myself.”

But Mahon, in his inquisition of Hawkins and her attorney, James Munnelly of West Chester, suggested that she had not done all that she could have to make ModSpace whole from her thefts. Munnelly turned over two checks totaling about $133,000 to the court as partial payment, and bank accounts in Hawkins names with about $220,000 had already been frozen. But that still left well over $600,000 in restitution outstanding, he said.

Hawkins had switched title to her West Goshen home to her husband shortly after her arrest, and had not attempted to sell either it or a property the couple own on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland that she has used part of what she stole to purchase.

“When a financial crime is of this magnitude,” Mahon told Hawkins, “restitution talks and the rest walks.”

Hawkins’ case was investigated by Chester County Detective Thomas Goggin, who last week was named 2014 Detective of the Year in part for his work on Hawkins’ case.

Goggin’s efforts revealed that Hawkins had engaged in “thousands” of transactions with a fictitious accounts for a health care company called Caring Hearts she had opened at WSFS Bank. The Caring Hearts company sent dozens of invoices to ModSpace for employee benefits, all of which were approved by Hawkins. She wrote checks to herself on the account, or made out to cash. She transferred thousands of dollars between the Caring Hearts account and her personal checking account.

More than that, she paid for personal expenses using the Caring Hearts account, including weekly grocery and restaurant purchases; $20,000 in jewelry buys; more than $10,000 in home improvement projects; mortgage payments on her two homes — one overlooking the Mill Creek in Chesterton, Md., where she kept two boats — and about $35,000 to an Elkton, Md., environmental firm to help dredge the creek at her $546,000 Maryland home.

Goggin found that Hawkins was being paid $200,000 a year. And while she was stealing thousands from the company, she also fraudulently awarded herself bonus points in a company-based rewards program that allowed her to make an $869 purchase of a flat-screen television.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hurrah for justice! Here's a News Flash: U play close to the fire U get burned! I hope she is genuinely sorry and repents and repays. Thanks for the fire now rather than for all eternity.