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Former Bookkeeper Sentenced for Embezzlement

A former Bridgeport law office employee convicted of stealing almost $200,000 from the firm over a decade was sentenced to three years in prison Wednesday.

Jayne Sliva, 54, of Adena appeared before Belmont County Common Pleas Judge Frank Fregiato, who imposed the maximum penalty of 36 months behind bars for aggravated theft, a felony, and 180 days for one count of tampering with records, a misdemeanor. The sentences will be served concurrently.

Sliva had worked as a bookkeeper for Davis Law Office in Bridgeport from its founding in 2001 until 2012. The theft was discovered when the law office took on a partner, becoming Davis & Kotur in November 2014.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation conducted a forensic audit and concluded that a total of $185,365.75 had been stolen during Sliva’s period of employment. Restitution of the total amount was ordered, with $100,000 to be paid within 30 days. When this initial payment is made, the state will drop a felony charge of money laundering against Sliva.

“She was a very trusted, very valuable employee, and obviously she betrayed me,” attorney William Davis said during the sentencing hearing. “I don’t see any reason for leniency and a slap on the wrist in this case. … I just never expected that I would be here today. That’s someone I really trusted, and it was a total deception.”

Davis said he now handles the firm’s finances himself.

Fregiato said he hopes Sliva’s sentence will deter others from committing similar crimes.

“This court agrees there have been embezzlement cases in the Ohio Valley. That has got to stop. I’m sending a message of deterrence to all individuals in a position of trust that you do not act this way,” Fregiato said.

In addition, Fregiato rejected the defense’s argument that prison time would interfere with the process of making restitution.

“That flies in the face of reason to this court. I don’t know where one thinks that one can steal $185,000, almost $200,000, and not go to prison for it,” he said.


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