72-Year-Old Steals Thousands From Employer, Goes To Prison - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

72-Year-Old Steals Thousands From Employer, Goes To Prison

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by Aundrea Cline-Thomas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Like many small businesses, the employees at  Ralph Gregory's Plumbing Company were like family and bookkeeper Patricia Rush was no different

"We were close and she was like family and it hurts," owner Ralph Gregory said. "I just trusted her with everything. We found it by accident. We weren't even looking for it."

What he found was at least $322,000 missing from his company. An audit revealed Rush was changing line items in his accounting software.

"(Rush) would go back in and show we paid a plumbing supply house this much money instead of her credit card company," he said."

The 72-year-old worked at the plumbing company for more than 14 years. Wednesday she told a judge that Gregory was one of the nicest people she knows. But she gave the court no explanation as to why she took the money to pay her credit card bills after accumulating enormous debt over the course of at least seven or eight years.

The credit card charges included everything from plane tickets to grocery trips with her neighbors to Walmart. 

In court Rush said this is the worst she's felt in her life and said saying sorry to Gregory "doesn't cut it."

"You think you just won't trust anymore," Gregory said. "But I don't know. I just feel like you have to trust."

With no expectation of getting the money back, he's moving on. But this time he's a lot wiser.

"Just have somebody double check everything," he advised. "Pay an accountant."

Rush is sentenced to eight years in prison but is only required to serve one year and spend the remainder of her sentence on probation.

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