2013-08-01 / Front Page

Embezzlement case concludes with jail time

Former director could serve up to 12 months

MANISTIQUE – The former director of the Woodland Meadows Assisted Living Facility was sentenced to up to 12 months in the Schoolcraft County Jail last week.

Jana Chaperon, 39, of Rapid River, had been charged with two felonies: one charge of embezzlement of more than $50,000, but less than $100,000; and one charge of using a computer to commit a crime. As part of her guilty plea agreement, the second charge was dropped.

During Chaperon’s sentencing in 11th Judicial Circuit Court on June 25, her lawyer, Kathryn Denholm, sought a reduced sentence, noting Chaperon’s education, clean criminal history, and strong family and community ties.

“She certainly never expected herself to be in this place,” Denholm said. “She found herself caught up in a situation that became out of her control.”

Chaperon had come forward and acknowledged what she had done, Denholm noted, and had a check ready to cover a “substantial portion” of the restitution. She added that Chaperon had been offered a part-time job and could use this to pay down the restitution and fines.

While handing down the sentence, Judge William Carmody explained more and more embezzlement cases have been occurring in the area, calling it “a sickness in our society”.

“We have placed such a value on materialistic items,” he said. “We forget what it takes to earn those, and, of course, live within our own means.”

In a letter submitted to the court by Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital, the previous owner of the facility, officials stated that they were unsure if the sale of the facility would have been pursued if they would have known of the embezzlement. Chaperon resigned from the position last summer, before the facility’s sale.

Carmody noted that the sentencing guidelines made Chaperon eligible for prison, since any sentence over 12 months constitutes a prison term.

She could have been sentenced to up to 17 months, according to those guidelines.

“That’s how serious these matters are – nobody understands them when they take that first step,” he said. “There has to be a deterrent.”

Carmody sentenced Chaperon to 12 months in prison, with 11 months to be served immediately. One month will be held in abeyance, pending successful completion of a probation period to be ordered by the court.

Chaperon will be unable to obtain any work releases or passes until after a 90-day period. She was ordered to pay $81,788.13 in restitution, plus court fines and costs.

Carmody explained the hospital’s insurance company may pursue a civil case to obtain the amount they paid to cover the loss caused by the embezzlement.

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