A Grand Rapids woman convicted of embezzling from a Kent County trucking company that has since closed was sentenced to prison Tuesday, Jan. 24 for what the judge called a “cunning and sophisticated’’ crime.
“The crime is one of some enormity; it was committed with a considerable amount of cunning and certainly was not a spur of the moment thing,’’ Kent County Circuit Court Judge Donald A. Johnston said.
Ilderina Kajtezovic, 25, apologized for her actions, which played out over several months in 2015 at AA Transportation. The trucking company on Broadmoor Avenue SE lost more than $300,000, forcing it to close.
“I made a huge mistake; I’m not running from that mistake,’’ she said. ”I’m just asking that the court give me mercy and allow me to make these restitution payments.’’
Her father, 45-year-old Sakib Kajtezovic, pleaded no contest to embezzlement. He is scheduled to be sentenced next month.
Defense attorney Roland Lindh asked that Kajtezovic be sentenced to probation “to keep her out there working’’ to pay restitution at a rate of $2,000 a month.
“And this is not a plea just for mercy; this a plea for justice,’’ Lindh told the court. “Because that’s the mechanism that keeps her working and keeps her paying the restitution to the victim.’’
Johnston was not convinced.
“It’s another case, I suppose, of closing the barn door after the horses have already fled; the business is gone,’’ Johnston said. “The effect of the embezzlement was to put AA Transportation out of business. I’m not sure (the owner) can reconstitute what has been lost.’’
Johnston sentenced Kajtezovic to between two and 20 years in prison for embezzlement and between 14 months and 7 years for using a computer to commit a crime. The sentences will run concurrent.
She and her father were arrested last year, accused of submitting fraudulent invoices and transactions with a billing company in excess of $750,000. The pair worked at the trucking company at the time of the embezzlement.
Bond was initially set at $1 million because the two are from Bosnia and were considered flight risks. The amount was reduced and both have remained free on bond as their cases advanced through court. A bond restriction required that they surrender their passports.
Johnston told Kajtezovic her actions put people out of work. “I see her as a cunning and sophisticated embezzler who, by her crimes, has put out of business one of her fellow immigrants and left him sitting on the curb, leaving a number of people unemployed.’’
Father and daughter signed for $100,000 in loans in the name of AA Transportation, court records show.
“There was also fraudulent credit card purchases attributed to both and also partook in the submission of fraudulent invoices and transactions’’ in excess of $750,000, Kentwood Detective Amol Huprikar wrote in a probable cause affidavit.
Ilderina Kajtezovic left AA Transportation and got a job as safety director and assistant manager in the dispatch office of a trucking company on Eastern Avenue SE, court records show.
“For all intents and purposes, she is an American and she fell victim to a common American sin of greed,’’ Lindh, the defense attorney said. “And she gave into that, but now she’s stepped up, accepted it and she wants to make it right.’’