A federal judge has sentenced a South Lake Tahoe resident to more than three years in prison for embezzling clients' money.
U.S. District Court Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. sentenced Lori Zoval, 47, to three years and eight months in prison Friday for embezzling money while working as an investment broker in Folsom, according to a Friday statement from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Zoval will also be required to serve three years of supervised release as part of the sentence.
According to Friday's statement, Zoval pleaded guilty to embezzling at least $24,939 from the investment and retirement accounts of her clients between October 2005 and April 2006.
At sentencing, the court found that Zoval actually stole more than $430,000 from the clients, a married couple close to retirement. At an earlier hearing, the couple testified to the financial and personal devastation the fraud had caused, according to federal prosecutors.
Zoval's attorney, Mark J. Reichel, urged Burrell to sentence Zoval to a year of house arrest and community service in August court filings, citing Zoval's troubled childhood, her recovery from drug abuse and close ties to her son.
Reichel also contended Zoval's clients were aware of the process she was undertaking regarding their money. He disputed the amount of the alleged theft in the documents.
"She was improper with the 24,000 for the provisional employee issue which is in the indictment; the balance was simply lost investment through negligence and other noncriminal factors," Reichel said.
The court found Zoval had fraudulently created documents that made it appear her clients authorized money transfers from their accounts and took steps to lull the victims into believing she was making legitimate and profitable investments on their behalf, according to Friday's statement.
Burrell rejected Reichel's argument for probation, saying Zoval "concocted a fraudulent scheme through which she manipulated and stole from the victims," according to the statement.
"Her actions show a lack of respect for the law and her failure to accept full responsibility for what she did," Burrell said.
A restitution hearing in the case is scheduled for Nov. 2.