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I rarely post embezzlement news stories that do not relate to dental or medical offices. I made an exception for this one because, the lawyer was admonished by his regulatory body, and “voluntarily” surrendered his law license as a result of Ms. Chambers theft. – Bill Hiltz
A 40-year-old Woodford woman who stole more than $200,000 from a Fredericksburg law firm was ordered in Circuit Court on Thursday to serve two years in prison and pay back all the stolen money.
Jennifer Marie Guss Chambers apologized in court and said that she suffered from back problems and became addicted to opioids after using them for pain management.
Over a 13-month period, Chambers said she was using 10 to 14 “roxies” (13-milligram oxycodone pills) a day. She said her drug sources were a local woman who eventually died of an overdose and a doctor who did not keep records of visits and took cash for pills he prescribed to her.
Throughout 2016 and into early 2017 Chambers hid her habit and thefts from family, friends, coworkers and her boss at the law firm.
According to testimony, Chambers siphoned money from a trust account overseen by the law firm. She laundered that money through her husband’s business, without his knowledge. She testified that she planned to pay the money back, but didn’t have a plan and didn’t realize how much she’d stolen until a nearly $1 million check bounced because of insufficient funds.
Chambers eventually turned over documents and confessed to stealing the money. She pleaded guilty to 13 embezzlement charges in June.
Commonwealth’s Attorney LaBravia Jenkins questioned Chambers’ drug addiction, saying in court that no evidence was introduced to support the claim.
“Was she an addict or was she greedy and dishonest?” Jenkins said. “I suggest the latter.”
The owner of the law firm was eventually admonished by the Virginia Bar Association. Jenkins said he surrendered his law license, even though that was not required.
Outside the courtroom, Jenkins declined to talk about the doctor alleged to have provided prescriptions for Chambers but said there is an investigation into the matter.