Newport Beach Payroll Manager Caught Embezzling Funds Gets Federal Prison

A 53-year-old human resources manager and onetime beauty queen who spent six years slyly embezzling money from her Newport Beach corporate employer this month thought U.S. Department of Justice officials pushed for a “too severe” prison punishment of 41 months.

Claiming she's “very remorseful” and committed her crimes under emotional duress at Trinity Property Consultants, Susan Lynne Chapman hoped for a prison stint of no more than 33 months.

But Assistant United States Attorney Jeannie M. Joseph reported that Chapman–a former Colorado county fair beauty queen who dropped out of high school in the 11th grade–used her control of the company's payroll to steal more than $1.24 million by artificially inflating auto expense allowances, diverting the money to a Surprise, Arizona bank account, and attempting to permanently erase records to block detection.

Chapman used the loot to remodel her home pool, repay a $35,000 loan, pay monthly credit card and mortgage bills, and buy a Harley Davidson motorcycle, according to law enforcement records.


Her shocked co-workers, who don't believe the remorse claims, discovered the scheme and fired her in 2012.

Inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse, U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter considered the opposing sentencing positions and ordered Chapman to serve 35 months in federal prison, pay full restitution and submit to supervised probation for three years upon her release from custody.

The judge gave her a break too. This thief will get to spend the holidays with family. She was ordered to surrender to prison officials by noon on Feb. 9.

Meanwhile, the 45-year-old Joseph is ending her DOJ career. On Christmas Eve, Gov. Jerry Brown appointed her to serve as a judge in Orange County Superior Court. She'll earn nearly $185,000 annually in the post.

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