Debra Chance will be released from prison
A woman convicted of stealing more than $600,000 from a local car dealership will be released from prison with stipulations imposed by a judge.
Debra L. Chance, 42, of New Middletown, appeared Tuesday before Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court for a judicial-release hearing on her 2011 conviction for theft, a third-degree felony.
Chance asked the judge to release her from prison after serving about 27 months of her four-year sentence. She was convicted in 2011 of stealing more than $600,000 from The Honda Store on Boardman-Canfield Road where she was employed.
Judge Krichbaum approved the request for early release after a verbal exchange with the prosecutor and defense counsel, and stipulations placed on Chance.
The judge told Chance she will be spending the next five years on parole to the Ohio Adult Parole Authority and will be required to complete a treatment program at Community Corrections Association, a half-way house in Youngstown. She will also be required to maintain a job and give half her salary to the dealership over the next five years as restitution.
“You have to pay this back somehow. For the next five years you will be paying half of what you earn,” he said.
Chance had been an office manager at the car dealership from 2005 through March 2009 and had been stealing funds from the company for most of that time, police said.
She would write loan checks to herself, write a phony receipt, then credit her own account instead of putting the money into the dealership’s account, police added.
She also would take cash from the business transactions for a given day, write a check for the amount, but pull the check out of the daily deposit before the deposit was made to the bank.
Nicholas Brevetta, an assistant county prosecutor, opposed the early release, saying it would be improper because of the financial hardship to the dealership caused by Chance. He also said the case needs to serve as an example to others who may consider committing similar crimes in the future.
Judge Krichbaum took issue with the use of the term “improper,” pointing out Chance is a nonviolent offender, and judicial release is common for first-time, nonviolent offenders. He also said Chance has served a substantial part of her sentence.
“There is nothing improper about the judicial release. You may not agree with it, but there is nothing improper about it legally,” he said.
Atty. Charles Dunlap, representing Chance, told the court his client has maintained a good record while incarcerated, completed some community service, worked as a trustee in the jail and is now a trained home health-care provider. Judge Krichbaum, however, was not without words for her conduct.
“Because she was biting the hand that fed her, it becomes so egregious that, as a person, I would side with [the victim]. I would not want her out,” he said.
Chance told the court she is thankful for the opportunity to apologize to those she has harmed and wants to get home so she can see to the care of her family.
“Sometimes people make really bad choices in life ... not considering the consequences,” she said. “I have hurt a lot of people.”