As stated in the plea agreement, Laura Matus was sentenced to one year in Yuma, AZ, County Jail on a work furlough with five months’ probation, meaning that she will work her normal hours at her current job when she is not spending time in jail.
Judge Haws previously stated that he planned to sentence Matus to serve 60 months of probation, and order that she pay $346,000 in restitution to Dicks Auto Rebuilders, located at 201 West 24th St. She had worked at the auto shop for 34 years as the office manager before being fired.
The wife of the business owner, Linda Rautenberg, said she would be willing to choose the one-year jail time which is the maximum amount of time the defendant can serve.
Matus pleaded guilty May 15 to one count of theft as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors. In doing so, she had to admit that from January 2015 through Dec. 17, 2018, she embezzled more than $100,000 from the company by writing checks to herself and making unauthorized cash withdrawals.
According to court records from December 2017, Linda Rautenberg, who is the wife of Warren Rautenberg, the owner of Dicks Auto Rebuilders, became suspicious that Matus might be stealing from the company after she went to pick up her dry cleaning and was given items that belonged to her, such as comforters and home goods.
In January 2018, Linda Rautenberg reported the embezzlement to the Yuma Police Department, explaining that her husband had given control over their business' bookkeeping, payroll, tax preparation and tax deposits to Matus. She added that in all of those years, her husband never checked into the management of those accounts.
She also informed the police that she had noticed that Matus had made several high-end purchases, including a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and other off-road vehicles. She had also made several visits to a casino.