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Published: Wednesday, 7/20/2005

Embezzler sentenced to 2 years in prison

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Saying that a message needed to be sent to deter others from stealing money from their employers, Judge Frederick McDonald yesterday sentenced Patrick Walsh to two years in prison for stealing more than $200,000 while he was employed at a Maumee business.

Walsh, 52, who was the chief financial officer and comptroller at the Helm Instrument Co., was sentenced in Lucas County Common Pleas Court for aggravated theft.

After a two-day trial, a jury convicted Walsh, of 6106 Hawthorne Drive, Sylvania, on June 16 of embezzling $206,276 between November, 1998 and May, 2004.

Prosecutors said Walsh wrote checks from company accounts to pay for personal expenses and credit card debt, and the debts of an employee, Shari Price, a co-defendant with whom he had a personal relationship.

Judge McDonald said Walsh, an accountant who taught business classes at area colleges, violated the trust of the family who owns Helm Instrument and showed a "callous disregard'' for his former employer and the employees at the firm.

Walsh made a brief statement in court, but didn't express remorse or accept responsibility for the crimes. His attorney, Thomas Szyperski, said the conviction would be appealed, and asked for a stay on the sentence during the appeals process.

Judge McDonald allowed for Walsh to post his home for a $50,000 property bond. He was released from the jail late yesterday.

Tim Braun, an assistant prosecutor who tried the case, said Walsh abused his position to slowly bleed money from the company, and personally benefited financially while long-term employees were laid-off when business declined and the firm was struggling.

Outside the courtroom, Richard T. Wilhelm, president of the company, said Walsh was present at many of the interviews when employees were told they were being laid off, and he opposed their requests for compensation and benefits.

"This was no different from robbing a bank or a carryout - theft is theft,'' Mr. Wilhelm said. "Even to the end, he showed no remorse.''

The company employs about 40 people at 361 Dussel Drive., and is a global supplier for the metal forming industry.

Price testified that she used a company credit card that Walsh provided to purchase personal items, and that he used company funds to make payments on her mortgage and car loan.

Price, 38, of Orchard View Drive, Maumee, also received unauthorized salary increases, tuition reimbursements, and pay advances that Walsh approved. She pleaded guilty April 14 to a reduced charge of aggravated theft.

In a separate hearing, Judge McDonald sentenced Price to 30 days in the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio, Stryker, and placed her on community control for three years.

Walsh was ordered to make restitution of $186, 276, a figure that the court determined was the amount of money that he benefited from the embezzlement. Price was ordered to repay $20,000 to her former employer.

Contact Mark Reiter at:

markreiter@theblade.com

or 419-213-2134.



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