Paralegal Gets Prison Time for Embezzlement from Harrah’s

How cool is it that Harrah’s sponsors Project 21, a program that educates young people about the dangers of underage gambling, with prizes awarded for participation in essay, poster and poetry contests?

How uncool is it to be the former Harrah’s paralegal who plead guilty to stealing $370,000 from the program designed to help prevent underage gambling?

The Press of Atlantic City reports that earlier this year Jodi Muraczewski was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to embezzlement from the Project 21 corporate bank account from 2005 through 2009. She has also been ordered to pay $370,000 in restitution.

“She forged the signatures of Harrah’s employees who were authorized to sign the checks,” said Rachel Goemaat, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Paula Dow.

The Press states Muraczewski had filed bankrupty in 2004 and was having financial difficulties.

No matter how severe her financial difficulties were prior to being convicted of embezzlement, they couldn’t possibly approach the financial, emotional, and career problems she has now.

I checked the legal careers currently available at Harrah’s, and while there is no paralegal position posted for Project 21, there is a position available for a Labor & Employment Specialist at Harrah’s Corporate Las Vegas. This person reports to the Vice President of Labor & Employment, and works on a full range of labor law issues for the company.  Final candidates undergo a rigorous background check:

Prior Employment Verification

  • Education Verification
  • Social Security Trace
  • Criminal Background Check
  • Drug Screen
  • Motor Vehicles Records (where required for position)

It’s no surprise that Harrah’s background screening is this intense, even more so after a paralegal stole several hundred thousand dollars from the company.  I’m surprised a credit check isn’t obtained as well.

Given the lack of licensing or registration for the paralegal profession, Harrah’s Prior Employment Verification is an excellent checklist for anyone in charge of hiring legal support staffers.

Addendum:  How likely is Harrah’s to recover any of the $370,000 stolen by Muraczewski? I think you already know the answer, but last week the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported that millions of dollars in crime victim restitution is never repaid, interviewing California attorney Michael Villa, who does not expect to see any of the $100,000-plus dollars stolen by his former legal secretary. Villa cites the recession and double-digit unemployment as known obstacles for anyone seeking to land a new job – a challenge made almost impossible if you have felony convictions on your record.

Source:  Press of Atlantic City

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