Ex-Seagram heir's employee ordered to pay him back for embezzlement - The Daily Progress: News

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Ex-Seagram heir's employee ordered to pay him back for embezzlement

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Posted: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 10:41 pm | Updated: 4:23 pm, Tue Jan 22, 2013.

A judge Tuesday ordered a Palmyra woman to pay more than $200,000 in restitution to former employer Edgar Bronfman after she admitted she embezzled money from the New York City billionaire.

“I am terribly, terribly sorry. I’m ashamed and I’m embarrassed for what I’ve done,” Joanne Thompson told the judge through her tears.

Charlottesville Circuit Judge Edward Hogshire suspended prison time of two years on each of five felony embezzlement counts. Authorities charged her in June 2010. She admitted she stole money from Bronfman and his Albemarle County property, Georgetown Farms.

Bronfman’s family once owned the Seagram’s liquor empire. Forbes magazine estimated his net worth at $2.6 billion in September 2010.

Hogshire in June accepted a plea deal initially rejected by Albemarle County Circuit Judge Cheryl Higgins.

“She was completely cooperative with investigators,” Albemarle Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Elliott J. Casey told the judge. “Her codefendant … was not so cooperative.”

A jury last year acquitted Michael Nemeyer following his June 2010 arrest on 16 embezzlement counts. Thompson testified against him.

Bronfman was “very much comfortable” with Thompson’s plea agreement, Casey told Hogshire.

Thompson became emotional in the moments before her sentencing.

“He was so kind to me over the years,” she said of Bronfman.

Hogshire said Thompson will avoid jail time so long as she completes 20 years of good behavior without incident.

Hogshire ordered Thompson to pay $214,614 in restitution directly to Bronfman. Her payment plan has not yet been established, Hogshire said.