A Beatrice woman accused of stealing from an insurance company last year was ordered to pay a fine Thursday in Gage County Court.
Nicole L. Nelson, 45, was ordered to pay a $400 fine for a charge of theft valued at $500-$1,500. The class 1 misdemeanor was previously reduced from a class 2A felony charge of theft valued at more than $5,000.
Defense attorney Benjamin Murray said during a hearing Thursday that initial reports of how much money Nelson had stolen from Penner Insurance were severely exaggerated.
According to court documents Nelson, who had been working there since 2012, handled customer payments, bank account relations and the company's books.
Last May records were turned over to INSUR insurance group, which found that Nelson had been receiving payroll advance checks and not paying them back.
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Murray said multiple other employees at the company were also taking advances.
“Some of it got paid back, some of it didn’t,” Murray said. “We never came up with an actual amount.”
Nelson was interviewed on Aug. 7 by the investigator admitted she made false entries in the books to cover payroll advances. She was terminated and wrote a letter of apology to the company.
Following her termination, INSUR discovered that Penner Insurance's sweep account had a discrepancy of more than $112,000 from January 2012 through 2019.
Nelson was believed to have contributed to the discrepancy, though, according to Murray, it’s now believed the money was never actually taken from the account.
“When this first came up there were these huge numbers we were dealing with that were based on essentially a guess,” he said. “…When we actually looked at that, we don’t think there was any money missing. It was a sweep account that nobody in the office had actual access to. Payments went into the account and could be automatically withdrawn by insurance companies.”