It Takes a Thief: Women Who Steal Money

They're devoted wives, loving parents, and caring members of the community. They're stealing at the office, sometimes to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. What makes them do it?
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The Temptation to Steal

Fun-loving Kristy Linn Cardina seemed an unlikely woman to be harboring a dark secret. She appeared to be a contented wife and mother who worked as an administrative assistant and bookkeeper at Marsh, Berry and Co., financial consultants to the insurance industry in Concord Township, Ohio. She and husband David, who worked at a construction company, lived in her childhood home with children Melissa, 8, and Stephen, 6. After Cardina's parents moved to Florida, the couple had taken over the house and the mortgage. They were fixing it up, because Cardina liked everything to be perfect.

"If you saw them on the street, they looked like a typical family," says Debbie Bailey, who was Cardina's best friend and met her regularly for dinner and chick flicks. With a combined salary of around $80,000, the Cardinas' lifestyle was more modest than that of Kristy's upper-middle-class youth. Still, friends and coworkers sometimes wondered about her spending. She and Melissa had countless outfits; she didn't buy one computer game at a time but 10; and she stocked her kitchen with expensive dinnerware and serving pieces. When she wasn't shopping, Cardina read Harlequin Romance books; she said she only liked happy endings.

Unfortunately for Cardina, she's now serving a seven-year prison sentence at the Trumbull Correctional Institution, in Leavittsburg, Ohio, after pleading guilty in 2001 to aggravated theft, tampering with records, and forgery. During most of her tenure at Marsh, Berry, which began in 1992, she had doctored the books, cashed and forged company checks for personal use, and paid her credit card bills -- amounting to some $233,000 -- with company funds. "I started out thinking, 'I'll just do it this one time,'" says Cardina, 38. "After that, it was easy to keep going."

But her sins gnawed at her: She spent nights lying awake, sick with panic, until her employer discovered the theft and fired her in 1999. She confessed to detectives the following year but couldn't bring herself to tell her husband, now 43, until the story broke in the local newspapers in the spring of 2001. Cardina told him she would understand if he walked away. He didn't. "He just said, 'I love you, and we'll get through this,'" she says.

Continued on page 2:  Rising Numbers of Female Embezzlers


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