It Didn’t Stay Here: Las Vegas trip by alleged Michigan embezzler

It Didn't Stay Here

Michelle Schneider (courtesy Grand Traverse County, Mich.)

The bug light known as Las Vegas glows far and wide. To remote corners of the country. Places like, say, Traverse City, Mich. That’s a remote, cultured scenic burg of 15,000 on an inlet off the eastern shore of Lake Michigan near the northern tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. (Just before becoming New To Las Vegas, I put Traverse City on a Forbes retirement list.) The town is 2,000 miles from Las Vegas.

If the Traverse City authorities are to be believed, Michelle Schneider saw the glow. They say she embezzled funds from the Traverse City community college where she had worked as a technology specialist for four years to fund a number of personal expenses, including at least one trip to Las Vegas.

Schneider, 46, of suburban Grawn (yep, that’s the name of a place), faces one count of embezzlement for using a credit card issued by Northwestern Michigan College to charge up more than $9,000 in unauthorized expenses. She pleaded not guilty earlier this month in Michigan’s state court system and awaits further proceedings.

That’s enough to earn a nomination to my list It Didn’t Stay Here. The roster highlights folks in difficulties elsewhere for something that happened in Vegas. It’s a mildly satirical refutation of the incredibly well-known marketing pitch of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, “What Happens Here, Stays Here.” The full list sits elsewhere on this page.

Grand Traverse County puts online its court dockets but not charging papers, so I don’t know the details of the Las Vegas angle. I am relying for this post on local media, especially the 159-year-old Traverse City Record-Eagle, founded in 1858, six years before Nevada became a state.

Besides travel to Las Vegas, Schneider supposedly charged up trips to other places, school tuition and even car repairs. Quoting court records, the Record-Eagle‘s Kyle Kaminski reported that she wrote the college, which fired her in March after an audit detected red flags, that she had “lost my way” when “addictions took over my life …I’m so ashamed and embarrassed because I had no idea what I had done. … I know what I did was unexcuseable but honestly my addiction ruled my life.”

The paper said she has made restitution of more than $6,000.

Embezzlement includes the theft of funds from one’s employer. Under Michigan law, the specific offense with which she is charged is a felony. It carries a possible five-year prison sentence and a maximum fine of the greater of $10,000 or three times the amount embezzled. Three times $9,000 is $27,000.

But in the context of life, this is not exactly a big money case. Given Schneider’s apparent remorse, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it resolved by a plea deal with little or no jail time. Undoubtedly for her, the lights of Las Vegas don’t seem as bright now.

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