LeBan must pay for her crimes
El Dorado County Superior Court will be abuzz Tuesday when Terry LeBan is sentenced on felony embezzlement charges.
The former Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority executive director pleaded no contest in June to taking $73,786 between February 2000 and November 2001. Now it is time for her to pay for her crimes. In her plea bargain she agreed to repay the stolen money. It is up to the judge what of the maximum three-year prison term and $10,000 fine she will have to pay.
Although LeBan has paid at least $5,000 toward the restitution, it is only a drop in the bucket. Even if she does fully repay what she took, she can never undo the damage she and former Controller Debra Kirk inflicted on the LTVA and the local area. Kirk is not here to face the charges because she died in what some have called a Thelma and Louise-like car accident in November 2001. LeBan was injured in the crash and to this day wears a back brace. It was a month later that LeBan resigned and soon it became public knowledge just what the two were up to.
Three years does not seem like much time to sit in jail when you consider the setbacks that LeBan’s actions caused. Perhaps it will give the 52-year-old Gardnerville woman time to think about her actions, to think about her greed, to think about all of the legitimate things that the money could have been spent on. Only LeBan and Kirk know what they were thinking when they forged checks, falsified payroll records and took cash advances from LTVA credit cards at Stateline and Reno casinos. Whatever their explanation, it can never change the outcome. What they did will have a lasting effect on the South Shore, but at the same time it has not brought us to our knees. One day this embezzlement scheme will just be a blip in our history.
But we also must ask if it would be better for LeBan to be whiling away her time in prison or to be outside working? The latter would afford her the opportunity to be gainfully employed so she could make restitution. Another alternative might be to have LeBan serve her sentence by helping others by performing a community service. Perhaps what LeBan deserves is a mix of jail time and community service with any future wages being garnished to payback what she took. We can only hope it will be repaid with interest.
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