Court Notebook: Judge throws book at gambling embezzler

Telling her gambling is no excuse, a circuit judge ignored pleas for leniency and sentenced a former bookkeeper to 12 years in a state prison for embezzling about $210,000.

Judge Hardt also sentenced Mary Jo Clark, 60, formerly of Golden Gate Estates, to 10 years of probation, a lengthy term, so she could repay John Rice Plumbing the thousands she stole from the Naples firm from December 2001 to October 2005.

Clark had pleaded no contest in August, leaving her sentence up to the judge, who ordered a presentence investigation. At a sentencing hearing last month, Assistant State Attorney James Molenaar argued for a lengthy term, while Clark’s public defender sought leniency.

Evidence also showed Clark used the money to pay credit cards and other bills. County records show Clark and her husband Kenneth took out three mortgages between 2002 and 2006 and were foreclosed on twice.

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