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story.lead_photo.caption Shirley Clements - Photo by Pulaski County sheriff's office

A 64-year-old woman who stole more than $400,000 from her long-time Little Rock employer was sentenced to 22 years in prison — eight years short of the maximum sentence — after a two-day trial.

Shirley Jean Clements of Cabot had been with Refrigeration & Electric Supply Co. at 1222 S. Spring St. for 17 years, handling the family-owned business’ accounts receivable.

But she spent her last five years at the company stealing money daily, prosecutors Lauren Eldridge and Erin Driver told the Pulaski County jury that convicted and sentenced her.

“This was a day-by-day course of action against her employers and fellow employees,” Driver said.

She asked jurors Thursday to consider what the money Clements took could have been used for, like pay raises and retirement benefits. Clements had betrayed people who had trusted her for years, saying that she had gotten away with her thefts for so long because that bond of trust kept the owners from examining her work.

The prosecutor called on jurors to impose the harshest sentence, 30 years in prison, because that penalty would keep Clements behind bars for at least five years, the same amount of time she had spent stealing from the company.

Jurors deliberated about 90 minutes to convict Clements of theft by receiving. The felony charge typically carries a sentence of 20 years, but Clements was eligible for a longer sentence because she has prior convictions for marijuana trafficking. The 22-year term requires that she serve a little more than 3 ½ years before she can quality for parole.

Clements did not testify, and defense attorney Jonathan Lane disputed that prosecutors could prove Clements, and not someone else in the company, was responsible for missing funds.

Police reports show owner Bill Miller reported the theft to Little Rock police in March 2014, about three weeks after an audit showed that $300,000 to $400,000 appeared to have been misappropriated by Clements, at least as far back as March 2009.

Miller told police that once he and company controller Dwana Enderson became suspicious of Clements, they had a monitoring program installed on her computer that documented suspicious activity on her part, court filings show. Clements was arrested in April 2016, about two years after Miller went to police.

Bankruptcy filings show that Clements entered Chapter 7 in March 2015, almost exactly a year after she was fired. She reported on her bankruptcy petition that her gross income had been $78,187 in 2013. She had $49,326 in assets, almost all of that representing her Cabot home. She also claimed $292,375 in debts with $198,375 in unsecured debt.

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Comments

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  • NoCrossNoCrown
    February 24, 2019 at 9:18 p.m.

    $400,00.00 devided by 5 years equals $80,000.00 per year for less than 3 years in jail
    Who says crime doesn't pay?
    Nobody is calling her a thug, babymaker or welfare queen....etc,
    so she must not be a POC......ijs

  • thistlegal
    February 24, 2019 at 9:58 p.m.

    To nocrossnocrown: Your comment doesn't make much sense. She is an embezzler. Why would anyone expect her to be called a thug, babymaker or welfare queen in a newspaper article reporting the outcome of a trial for a felonious female. If you need to make racist comment, at least make it an appropriate one!

  • ZeebronZ
    February 25, 2019 at 9:33 a.m.

    A lawyer in LR embezzled about the same amount, completely looting a client's trust fund and received the maximum federal sentence, 33 months. Maximum, 33 months. She should have wired the money to an out of state bank and it could have been a federal charge with less time and an early out.

  • titleist10
    February 25, 2019 at 9:40 a.m.

    Eligible for parole in 3 1/2 years crime does pay not a lot of hard working tax paying law abiding citizens make $100,000 per year

  • CharlesJohnson
    February 25, 2019 at 10:55 a.m.

    And during her prison hiatus, she can get free dental work done,lose weight on a health program, relax and improve her health and add years to her life, thanks to our liberal laws, while paying zero restitution with no attempt to claw back her ex-employers 400 grand. It's sad to look at this situation, especially from the business owners perspective. The law should consider damages done also.

  • malice06220956
    February 25, 2019 at 12:47 p.m.

    CHARLESJOHNSON - I work in one of the ADC's women's prisons and I don't know where you're talking about. This place is no picnic.

  • OzarkJim
    February 25, 2019 at 3:50 p.m.

    Sticky fingers! To many fingers in the Till! Ooops! I deposited the money in the wrong bank account (over and over and over again!) what was I thinking?

  • mrcharles
    February 25, 2019 at 5:41 p.m.

    Bankruptcy, oh, what is wrong with that says DT?

    malice, how arrogant of you to state faxs. Have you not watched fox or DT talk? You ruined a perfectly good complaint by someone who has ideas of how others say it is so that , well, they can gripe of coddling of perhaps people who were Many Accomplices Getting Arrested.

    Oh, forgot to go into her not being muslim, minority , funny named, bad parents [ even if having no facts one way or the other], etc, etc says the , well we know who they are here.

    Welfare queen, now where did I hear that fact before. Oh, at the Iran contra fiasco!

  • 0boxerssuddenlinknet
    February 25, 2019 at 5:55 p.m.

    mr charles please calm down before you have a heart attack and your foaming at the mouth brings in the men with the white jackets. she stole she got caught she'll go to prison. there, there feel better now?

  • whereawolf47gmailcom
    February 25, 2019 at 10:07 p.m.

    MRCHARLES....Trump says bankruptcy is ok. Explain how you may disagree! What do you consider the thousands of businesses and individuals that file for bankruptcy each year? Do you think they are all CROOKS and thieves?? What about the many corporations that buy distressed businesses, take them into bankruptcy and reorganize so tons of people have jobs. Does that make the CEO's and directors CROOKS and thieves?
    Or ONLY Trump?
    You are however funny!! Not that sane but funny!!
    When Trump is re-elected for another 4 years will you be moving out of the country??

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