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Former office manager gets 4-year sentence in $580K theft

Ed Brown was originally convicted in federal court in Concord, N.H.
Ed Brown was originally convicted in federal court in Concord, N.H.

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A former company office manager was sentenced Thursday to four years in federal prison for stealing over $580,000 from the business, including COVID-19 relief funds, and using the money to buy a boat and other items.

Jessica Pechtel, 35, had pleaded guilty in court in New Hampshire to one count of fraud.

Pechtel, of Andover, Massachusetts, had full access to the company's finances. Prosecutors said she made unauthorized purchases and transfers of funds to accounts that she controlled over 18 months.

She used the company's credit card to make unauthorized purchases from retailers such as Amazon or make payments via the online payment transfer system Venmo.

Prosecutors said Pechtel also drafted 17 unauthorized checks payable to herself that were drawn on the company's bank account, and took almost $44,000 in COVID-19 relief funds that were intended for the company.

Her lawyer asked for a sentence of five years of supervised release, noting that she had been released for five months under supervision, and there were no issues.

Pechtel also had lived in Maine. Her ex-husband, Andrew Pechtel, also faces fraud charges. Last year, 20 horses were seized from their farm and taken to the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals, NewsCenter Maine reported.

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