Crime & Courts

Gastonia woman sentenced to 40 months for $600K embezzlement

A $600,000 embezzlement earned a Gastonia woman 40 months in federal prison Monday.

Jennifer Ann Champagne, 40, pleaded guilty in July to embezzlement-related charges. Along with prison time, U.S. District Judge Frank Whitney ordered restitution of almost $595,000 and a year of supervised release.

Champagne’s crimes carried a maximum sentence of 45 years in prison.

According to court records, Champagne was an office manager and bookkeeper for Carolina Courtworks, a Charlotte company that builds and repairs tennis courts and running tracks. Over the length of her seven-year employment, for example, she forged the company president’s name to 100 checks – totaling more than $260,000 – made out to her or her husband’s landscaping business. She then altered the company’s books and records to hide her tracks, prosecutors say.

Champagne also was accused of using a company credit card to amass unauthorized charges of more than $40,000.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Whitney gave Champagne a lengthy sentence as a deterrent to similar crimes and because her scheme went on for so long.

Michael Gordon: 704-358-5095, @MikeGordonOBS