With her attorney again signaling that he will mount a mental-illness defense, a former Koss Corp. executive pleaded not guilty Friday to accusations that she embezzled $31 million from her longtime employer.
Sujata “Sue” Sachdeva, 46, of Mequon, Wisconsin, pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges she embezzled as much as $31 million from Koss Corporation, a publicly traded head phone manufacturer where she had been employed as Vice President of Finance, Secretary, and Principal Accounting Officer. According to the indictment, Sachdeva authorized numerous massive wire transfers of funds from company bank accounts to pay for her American Express credit card bills and obtained cashier’s checks to pay for personal expenses, among other things. The scheme dates back to at least 2004, according to reports.
Michael F. Hart, her Attorney, said in a brief interview, “As this case proceeds . . . we intend to show that Ms. Sachdeva’s mental and emotional health played a significant role in her conduct.”
Asked whether that was the basis for Friday’s not guilty plea, Hart declined additional comment. Later, he issued a statement reiterating his remarks in the interview and added, “This is the beginning of an ongoing process, and our focus will be on the arguments we make in court. However, the issues of Ms. Sachdeva’s mental and emotional health are essential to this case.”
In court, Hart agreed to a new condition of release requested by prosecutors that prevents Sachdeva from disposing of assets that might be confiscated if she is convicted. According to the indictment, the government will attempt to seize her $800,000 Mequon home, her 2007 Mercedes Benz E350, a Hawaiian vacation timeshare and other assets if she is convicted.
The U.S. Marshals Service also is working to inventory approximately 22,000 items FBI agents gathered at the Sachdeva home and from local luxury stores and resale shops.
Several stores kept paid-for clothing in their storerooms for Sachdeva. She also sold thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise through local resale shops, according to several retailers. The government expects to sell the items, probably in an online auction, and return the proceeds to Koss.
Sachdeva also was ordered Friday to refrain from using alcohol and to submit to drug and alcohol testing.
If Sachdeva is convicted, she faces up to 120 years in prison plus fines, restitution and forfeiture of merchandise.
Her trial is scheduled for April 19th.
I know there is a vast difference, but Sachdeva’s defense is a bit like the fellow who killed the abortion doctor – there is a justifiable reason? Clearly stated…I am unaware that using a spending disorder as a defense has been successful in achieving a verdict of “not guilty”. Certainly this case will be watched closely, as there are many white collar criminals who have either embezzled or created Ponzi schemes and lived lavish lifestyles who would welcome the opportunity to be found not guilty by reason of a “spending disorder.” If this defense wins…I would suspect that Bernie Madoff would be regretting his guilty plea.
IF I were a betting man, I’d bet she’ll face time in prison…but?
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