A Fallon woman accused of embezzling at least $190,000 from the Fallon Auto Mall appeared for her first two court dates last week.
Debra Lyna Clendenning was denied a release on her own recognizance on Thursday, although her bond was lowered from $55,000 to $10,000. She is represented by public defender David Neidert, who was appointed during Clendenning’s arraignment last Wednesday.
On Thursday, however, defense attorney Jacob Sommer, appearing for Neidert who was in Reno for a sentencing hearing, appealed to the court for Clendenning’s release.
Sommer said the current Ely resident is not a threat to the community, and despite her new location, will make every court appearance. In addition, Sommer said Clendenning has been cooperative with authorities since she turned herself in last week.
Churchill County Chief Deputy District Attorney Lane Mills, though, said the severity of charges and the amount alleged Clendenning stole from the auto mall. In addition, Mills said the thefts were ongoing for years, although a undisclosed amount could not be prosecuted due to statute of limitations.
Clendenning, meanwhile, said she “cleans houses” in Ely since relocating after she was fired from the business. She told Justice of the Peace Pro Tem Bill Lawry she would make each court appearance and was “very, very sorry” for her actions.
Lawry agreed she was not a threat but also agreed bond was in order due to the serious nature of the allegations.
According to a source close to the investigation, auto mall employees discovered the suspected crime during an audit. Cash was discovered to be missing and an internal investigation commenced.
It took only a “couple weeks” for the auto mall to detail the breadth of the alleged embezzlement, according to the source. The total amount discovered by the audit was nearly $250,000 since the suspected crimes began in 2009. Once the auto mall sorted the details, the Fallon Police Department was alerted, and an investigation began spanning approximately four months.
Authorities filed a warrant and contacted Clendenning to turn herself in, which she did.
The DA’s office, meanwhile, filed 11 felony counts of embezzlement. Five of the charges are embezzlement of a value of $650-$3,5000, which carries a penalty of one to five years in prison.
The other six charges, embezzlement of a value more than $3,500, each have a potential sentence of one to 10 years in prison.
Clendenning will appear in Justice Court on Dec. 4 for a status hearing.