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    Charity embezzler will spend year in prison

    image
    Eun Tae Lee will spend a year behind bars.

    A man who embezzled more than $700,000 from a charity organization to support a “lavish lifestyle” was sentenced to 12 months behind bars on June 30.

    In Loudoun County Circuit Judge Thomas Horne’s courtroom — a room where the tension could be cut with a blunt knife and each person’s face displayed more story lines than an episode of “Lost” — Eun Tae Lee stared at the clock, reading 9:52 a.m., and removed his thick glasses, massaging his eyes and releasing a sigh after nearly an hour of silence while a triangle of litigators deliberated his fate.

    Lee, who acted as the chief administrative officer for Sterling-based missionary company Seed International, embezzled more than $700,000 from the group — sponsored by the Korean Central Presbyterian Church in Vienna and funded by Korean churches worldwide.

    When Lee was giving a chance to speak, he read a prepared statement, pausing many times to compose himself as he fought tears.

    “I have deep regret for what I’ve done to [Seed International] and my family,” Lee said. “It was not like myself — I will pay back this debt.”

    The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said in April 2010 that Lee had gained control of Seed International’s bank account and wrote checks to accounts he set up in his own name.

    “I lost all trust in him,” Won Sang Lee, president of Seed International, said immediately after the sentencing. “I have to trust the legal system and I hope this cannot be repeated.”

    Wong Sang Lee and Eun Tae Lee are not related.

    Lee, clad in a suit, received a 10-year suspended sentence on each count of embezzlement (there were three) to run consecutively and a year in prison, as well as three years of probation. Additionally, he must repay $2,000 a month or 50 percent of his gross income until he repays the money he took — much of which Lee used on a $100,000 vehicle and a second, rented residence.

    Won Sang Lee was satisfied with Horne’s ruling, as was Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Sean Morgan.

    “Horne sentenced the defendant with what the commonwealth had recommended, so I think it was clear that [he made the right decision],” Morgan said.

    Prior to handing down his sentence, Horne launched into a monologue about two embezzlement cases he had ruled on before — with vastly different results.

    His first example was of a case nearly 30 years ago in which a person embezzled money to help support their spouse’s terminal cancer treatment.

    “In this case, the person embezzled money to give some peace of mind to the person they loved before they died,” Horne said. “That’s probably as close as you can get to [not receiving jail time].”

    But Horne had one more story to tell.

    “On the flip side, I had a case in which an individual embezzled and took money that was going to children’s activities and education,” Horne said. “Money they earned by selling cookies and doing car washes, she was taking to support her lifestyle.”

    Here you have a charity in which Lee took money from people who do good work in the world. This money was used for somebody’s pleasure.”

    Horne said he originally believed Lee’s case to be a textbook example that warranted a long-term prison sentence before hearing the case.

    Lee’s attorney,  Jay Myerson, said he thought that Horne could have been more lenient in this case.

    “Judge Horne is a good judge, but this is a different case and I’m disappointed that Lee has received active jail time,” Myerson said. “He has lived a life of good deeds and compassion prior to and after making this unfortunate mistake. I wish he could have remained free to give back to community service and to generate money to help pay back his debts.”

    Horne left a last thought with Lee.

    “[What you did] will be a difficult burden for you to carry.”

    Comments

    Crime does pay we are seeing it over and over.TRIBBY THE BIGGEST THIEF ONLY GOT 7 YEARS AND WAS SUPPOSED TO FORFEIT THE PROPERTY’S AND VEHICLES ECT.THEY ARE STILL LIVING IN THE HOUSES AND DRIVING THE VEHICLES.LOOKS TO ME LIKE THAT NOTHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN.HOW IS THIS FAIR TO EVERYONE THAT WORKS FOR WHAT THEY WANT.


    Have to agree that according to the Tribby guidelines he got shafted.  Hers breaks down to 6 months for every million so he should have only about 4 and 1/2 months.  Maybe he can appeal.  And who says crime doesn’t pay?????


    I’m shocked he’s only getting 1 year. Hopefully he learns his lesson in jail…..... & what was up with the LOST reference? hah


    Why only one year? Why do the prosecutors and judge feel that one year in prison and 3 years probation is adequate punishment, especially given the potential sentence that could have been meted out?

    I’d really like to see LTM do a more thorough look at this story to find out why. As it stands, I believe that Mr. Lee got off very easily with an extremely light sentence. I’d feel more comfortable and have more faith in our justice system if the rationale and reasoning that went into this decision could at least be explained.


    TRIBBY TOOK 14 MILLION AND ONLY GOT 7 YEARS AND THE THINGS SHE WAS GOING TO FORFEIT ISNT GOING TO HAPPEN SHE WILL KEEP IT ALL.WITH GOOD TIME SHE WILL BE HOME IN 5 YEARS. THIS GUY SHOULD HAVE HAD HER LAWYERS HE WOULDN’T HAVE GOT A DAY.


    James Watts - Ah always with the hyperbole on pot; if you have a small amount most places fine you maybe give you a day or two; if you have a trash bag of pot then you will get a distribution charge which will hurt.


    Good that the staff are working hard in controlling things like this. :)


    “...a room where the tension could be cut with a blunt knife and each person


    White collar crime pays..look at tribby..also anyone remember el atari? you can steal millions, you will get caught however,and serve maybe 3 to 5..however when released you will collect a few million you have stashed in a hidden area.
    Hell, with my job i’m a slave to work and traffic and it would take me a few decades to have a million at best.


    I personally think one year is fairly rough.  The individuals getting more than 1 year for marijuana must have had prior offences or there were other circumstances.  The maximum penalty is thirty days in jail and a fine of no more than $500 for the first offence.


    Whew!  Good thing he wasn’t Hispanic.  1 year for stealing $700,000.00…..hmmmmm something is wrong with the system.  Is he legal?


    1 Year for stealing $700,000 dollars!!!! I know people doing more time than that for possession of marijuana. Something is seriously wrong here.


    Lee

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