DA: Business manager stole $800K from Advocate
Feb. 9, 2018 at 9:42 p.m.
Updated Feb. 11, 2018 at 1 a.m.
A former Victoria Advocate business manager is accused of stealing more than $800,000 from the newspaper during an eight-year period.
"We were extremely disappointed when we discovered this was happening, but we are pleased to see the district attorney's office move this case forward," said Advocate publisher Dan Easton in a written statement Friday.
Thursday, a Victoria County grand jury charged Victoria resident Lisa Autry Trevino, 45, with theft of property more than $200,000; theft of property between $20,000 and $100,000; misappropriation of fiduciary or financial property more than $200,000; and misappropriation of fiduciary or financial property between $20,000 and $100,000.
According to her Facebook page, Trevino also uses the last name Dengler.
Theft of property more than $200,000 is a first-degree felony. If the defendant is found guilty, it carries a sentence ranging from five years to 99 years or life in prison and up to a $10,000 fine, according to the Texas Penal Code.
Although there was no warrant for her arrest as of Friday evening, District Attorney Stephen Tyler said he expected one to be issued within days.
Trevino did not respond to calls and messages requesting comment Friday. She has no criminal history in Victoria County, and a search of Texas criminal records revealed no results.
Citing a desire to protect the prosecutors' case, Easton declined to speak about numerous details of Trevino's employment, including how her alleged thefts were discovered, the exact amount reported stolen, whether that lost money was covered by insurance and what oversight she was subjected to.
He said Trevino's employment at the Advocate ended in 2016, shortly after the theft was discovered.
"We discovered the issue approximately 18 months ago and immediately reported it to the authorities," Easton said.
Tyler said he could reveal certain details.
Trevino, Tyler said, committed the thefts from 2008 to 2016 while she worked as a financial manager, a job that allowed her direct access to payments, payrolls and financial records. Her official title was controller.
"She had two general schemes," the district attorney said.
Over the years, Trevino paid herself cash advances totaling an amount with "five figures," he said. She also stole an amount totaling "a sum well into $800,000" by skimming money from accounts payable, outgoing payments to creditors.
And she could use the stolen money to fund her defense, Tyler said.
"Most of time, you can trust they won't get a court-appointed attorney," he said. "I expect that (the case) will be vigorously defended and prosecuted."
Despite the amount, Easton said the money stolen did not represent a serious financial loss for the newspaper because the thefts occurred during an eight-year period.
Pursuing a conviction and potential prison time, Tyler said, could make returning the stolen money even more difficult.
"They are not mutually exclusive, but ... it's almost impossible to get both," he said.
Tyler said he also expected the Advocate to receive little to no restitution for the money stolen.
"A lot of times, a thief steals because they don't manage their own money," said Tyler, adding, "They go through the stolen money like Monopoly money."