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Ex-bookkeeper admits embezzling $452,330

Karen A. Ruhland, the former bookkeeper for Buffalo's SPS Temporaries employment agency, pleaded guilty Wednesday to embezzling $452,330 from the Delaware Avenue business to pay off her credit card debts.

Ruhland, 47, of Merlau Road, East Aurora, pleaded guilty before State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia to a charge of second-degree grand larceny for thefts of company funds from April 2003 until this May.

The judge told Ruhland she faces a likely prison term of one to three years. However, he put off sentencing until April 16 after her lawyers said she would make an initial $50,000 restitution payment within the next week or so and needs more time to gather additional funds.

John C. Doscher, chief of the Erie County district attorney's White-Collar Crime Bureau, said Ruhland pleaded guilty to the highest charge a grand jury could have lodged against her.

Doscher said Ruhland would routinely pay off her own credit card debts by sending checks made out to SPS Temporaries but which she endorsed.

At least three credit card companies are now facing civil suits by SPS because they routinely counted the company checks as payments for Ruhland's credit card bills.

Ruhland declined to comment as she left court.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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