Newspaper Cashier Who Stole $400,000 Ordered to Pay It Back

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A former newspaper cashier convicted of stealing more than $400,000 from the company to fuel her gambling habit has been placed on five years? probation and ordered to pay restitution.

Lisa M. Bisel, 35, who stole the money from The Topeka Capital-Journal, was sentenced Friday by Shawnee County District Judge Matthew Dowd for her Feb. 2 conviction on four counts of theft of more than $25,0000.

Dowd rejected prosecutors? request that Bisel spend 38 months in prison. The state?s sentencing guidelines prescribe probation for four theft counts, and Dowd said he didn?t find ?substantial and compelling? reasons to depart from the guidelines.

Still, Dowd said he did not consider Bisel?s thefts as ?just another property crime.?

?This is a very egregious offense,? the judge said. ?The amount stolen was huge.?

During the trial, prosecution witnesses testified that Bisel stole $415,000 from the newspaper between 2001 and September 2004 as a way to finance slot machine gambling.

Bisel ? who earned $8.50 an hour as a cashier ? testified that she had a ?personal addiction? to gambling, but denied stealing from the newspaper. She also testified that she no longer gambles and had won more than she lost at Harrah?s Prairie Band Casino in Mayetta.

Other witnesses, however, testified that Bisel won $832,933 on slot machines at the casino over the four years but lost all of those winnings plus $170,840.

Bisel, who now operates a day care from her home, must pay restitution of $415,000 to the newspaper as part of her sentence.

The judge didn?t specify the amount of each restitution payment, but said they should be large enough to ?hurt.?

?They should be substantial,? Dowd said. ?She should not gamble under any circumstances as a special condition of probation.?

Dowd sentenced Bisel to two consecutive 11-month jail terms and two concurrent 11-month jail terms, then suspended them to place her on probation.

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