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Elma woman gets six months in jail for embezzling $31,000 from county credit union

A former county employee has been sentenced to six months in jail for stealing nearly $31,000 from the Erie County Employees Credit Union.

Susan E. Johnson, 42, of Elma, also was ordered by State Supreme Court Justice Penny M. Wolfgang to perform 50 hours of community service upon her release, pay full restitution of the $30,897 she admitted stealing and spend five years on probation.

Johnson, who had worked for the county Department of Social Services for 14 years, pleaded guilty May 19 to third-degree grand larceny.

Last December, credit union representatives notified the Sheriff’s Office of suspicious activity with one of its prepaid Visa cards. Upon her arrest in May, Johnson was accused of transferring funds into her own account and then making quick withdrawals to try to conceal the transfers. Detective Daniel R. Brinkerhoff led the investigation.

At sentencing, Johnson, who has two daughters, ages 9 and 20, told the judge that she had loved her job with Social Services and regretted what she did.

“Being a single parent became overwhelming, with one in college, and day care, and my student loans being due. But there’s no excuse for my actions,” Johnson said.

She asked the judge to consider a sentence of probation and community service, since she had some job prospects lined up.

However, Johnson also has three prior felony convictions for fraud, along with one misdemeanor conviction, which Wolfgang noted in pronouncing sentence.

“Whatever job you get, you seem to find a way to steal money from them,” Wolfgang said. “With your history of fraud, I can’t believe these people will want to hire you.”

Johnson could have faced a possible maximum jail term of seven years. The judge ordered that she try to find employment as soon as she is released, which could be before Christmas, and make restitution arrangements through the Probation Department.