Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Thursday, May 9, 2013 | 12:10 p.m.
The woman who embezzled more than $366,000 from a family-owned electrical company was sentenced to at least 5 1⁄2 years in prison, a judge ruled Thursday morning.
The sentence for 45-year-old Ana Ocegueda, who pleaded guilty to two counts of theft in December, was stronger than what the victims requested during the hearing.
Clark County District Judge Douglas E. Smith, who was filling in for Judge Valerie Adair, called Ocegueda a “cold, calculated woman” before imposing a sentence of 33 to 84 months in prison for each count. The sentences will run consecutively.
Tom Clift, owner of N.A.C. Electric Inc., hired Ocegueda — a co-worker at another electrical company — to be a bookkeeper roughly five years ago when Clift opened his business. Clift said he considered Ocegueda a friend. That was until late 2011 when Clift’s wife, Janie, discovered Ocegueda’s theft.
A Metro Police arrest warrant details years of deceit in which Ocegueda wrote checks to herself, completed direct deposits to herself, misused company credit cards and wrote fraudulent checks from Clift’s and his wife’s bank accounts.
Before her sentencing, Ocegueda, who was dressed in black with her hair in a ponytail, offered her apologies to the Clift family.
“I am deeply sorry for how I hurt everyone in the company,” she said. “There is no excuse for what I did … I deserve what is coming to me.”
Ocegueda’s attorney, Peter James Christiansen, said his client stole from N.A.C. Electric Inc. and the Clifts to support a gambling addiction. Christiansen called Ocegueda’s gambling addiction a reality rather than an excuse.
“It’s not a good explanation, but that’s why,” he said. “That’s how this whole thing happened, and that’s why this whole thing happened.”
Tom and Janie Clift’s daughter, JoAnna Jordan, said the financial destruction Ocegueda caused her parents and their company “seems to never end” as they deal with the fallout. The family asked the judge for a sentence of at least four years in prison.
Tom and Janie Clift watched the sentencing surrounded by family members and friends, several of whom had lost their jobs at N.A.C. Electric Inc. as a result of the embezzlement.
“My parents have suffered irreparable harm physically, emotionally and financially,” Jordan said.
Smith also ordered Ocegueda to pay $506,000 in restitution. The Clifts earlier had calculated the thefts at $366,844.13 but said in a victim impact statement they had since found more documentation to raise the amount to more than $500,000.
After the sentencing, Tom Clift said he was glad Ocegueda spoke to his family in court and offered an apology. Even so, Tom Clift said he was pleased with Smith’s sentence, which he hopes might deter others from committing similar fraud.
“She sounded sincere,” Tom Clift said of Ocegueda. “What she said was from her heart, but it doesn’t change anything.”