LANSING A former state employee was sentenced to one-year imprisonment and three years probation for embezzling more that $800,000 from Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.
Joseph Pettit was an environmental quality specialist at EGLE and helped release bond money to companies who had drilled in or operated a Michigan mine well. He also assisted in the transfer of money back its original owner, according the Attorney General’s Office.
According to the AG’s office, he also created fake vendors and diverted bond money into his personal bank account.
According to court records, Pettit is accused 18 times of this, totaling $855 690 between 2018 and 2020. Pettit is accused of embezzling more than $1 million, but some of it has been allowed to proceed with prosecution.
The court ordered Tuesday that he pay all of the money back as restitution.
Stuart Shafer, Pettit’s attorney, asked Ingham County circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina for a sentence of probation and no jail time. Shafer stated that Pettit has taken responsibility for his crimes and cooperated with the investigation. He has also been employed or actively seeking new employment since the charges were filed.
Shafer stated that prison time would not be considered excessively punitive.
Donna Pendergast, First Assistant Attorney-General, called the crime an “egregious violation of the public faith” and suggested that Pettit be sentenced to probation.
Pettit claimed that some of his problems were caused by a gambling addiction. For this reason, he is seeking treatment.
Pettit wrote to Aquilina in a letter, “My actions over recent years have caused great harm for a lot of people.” “The economic and emotional consequences of my past actions are immeasurable.” I am truly sorry for my inexcusable disregard for the economic and emotional well being of those I have hurt.
He wrote that he felt rewarded at work when he began to take money but that he “lost who he was” once he did so.
He explained that much of the embezzled funds were placed in brokerage accounts to fuel Pettit’s day trading addiction. He also lost large sums of the money in the same way.
“Mr. PETTIT’s criminal behavior cannot be excused, but as it appears from the many character letter presented, this behaviour was out of character Mr. PETTIT and, as his son Austin stated, this behavior doesn’t define him,” Shafer wrote in an pre-sentencement memorandum.
Pettit was initially charged with eight counts each of embezzlement and uttering, publishing, and using a computer for a crime. However, all but one of the embezzlement charges were dropped as part of a plea bargain.
Kara Berg can be reached at 517-377-1113, or [email protected]. Follow her @karaberg95 on Twitter.
This article first appeared in the Lansing State Journal. Former state worker is sentenced for embezzling more that $855,000