An Ocean Springs woman embezzled tens of thousands of dollars from her former employer, but she’s not going to prison for it.
Judge Dale Harkey sentenced Ashley Bandyk on Wednesday to a five-year suspended sentence, with all the time to be served under post-release supervision. The judge also ordered her to pay $91,213 in restitution plus court costs and fines. Bandyk has already made a $20,000 payment.
The state had recommended a 10-year sentence, with three years to server under house arrest. Prior to sentencing, Bandyk tearfully accepted responsibility for her actions.
“I had a long time since this began to think about my actions and my main objective now is doing everything I can to make up for it,” she said. “I know that I was at fault and I am really trying to make up for it (by) being able to obtain a job that will be able to make that possible.”
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Since her arrest in December 2015, her attorney Rufus Alldredge, pointed out, Bandyk has tried to improve her life and completed nursing school so she could get a good job that would allow her to pay the remaining restitution.
Alldredge had said there was “more to the relationship” between Bandyk and her employer than the court was aware of, though he didn’t go into details. Bandyk, he said, worked for him both full time and part time for at least four years.
“Unfortunately, the nature of this offense, whatever the relationship between you and the victim, the breach of trust displayed here over a period of years I don’t feel it is appropriate,” Harkey said.
The man she took the money from is also suing her. He is seeking $150,000 in compensatory and punitive damages in addition to the $91,000.
Bandyk’s attorney had asked for a protective order to keep her from having to give a deposition in the civil case prior to her sentencing. The man’s attorney objected, saying Bandyk waived her right to not incriminate herself when she pleaded guilty to the crime.
Her attorney later filed a counterclaim, saying, in part, the civil litigation is an abuse of process because the victim sought criminal action to recover the money she embezzled from him. Bandyk is asking for $250,000 to cover attorney fees and court costs in the civil action.
Bandyk worked for the man as early as 2010 when he was sick, incapacitated and often hospitalized, the lawsuit said. She worked as a bookkeeper and assistant and was in a position of trust over his finances and personal affairs.
She initially denied any wrongdoing but later admitted setting up a PayPal account in her name to funnel the money from the man’s account.
Bandyk never said what she bought with the money.