Charges against Erin Maness, a woman accused of stealing more than $12,000 from her former employer, have been amended to racketeering.
Maness was in court on May 18 in front of 26th Judicial District Judge Jeff Cox on arraignment on an amended bill of information for charges of theft of $1,500 or more, racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering.
Assistant District Attorney Hugo Holland says Maness pled not guilty to the charge of racketeering and trial has been set for June 15. She has been remanded into custody on the new charge. Her bond was set at $15,000.
“I am going to dismiss the other charges as the racketeering encompasses all of them,” Holland said. “Unless she pleads guilty, which is unlikely, she is going to be tried by a jury of her peers.”
Maness was originally charged with one count of felony theft of more than $12,000 and 28 counts of theft of business records, Webster Parish Sheriff Gary Sexton said at the time of her arrest.
The business records were state certificates, which potentially could be valuable, he says.
“The company performed an internal audit and found the losses,” Sexton said during the initial investigation. “They provided us with the information uncovered by the audit and we arrested the suspect Wednesday morning (June 11, 2014).”
WPSO’s investigation revealed Maness had been taking checks and cash intended for her employer for more than a year. The thefts were said to have occurred from Jan. 2013 through April 2014. She had been employed at the business for a little more than one and a half years.
According to her amended bill of information, Maness and her husband, Scott, “each separately and when acting together constituting an enterprise, engaged in a pattern of racketeering…”
The bill of information lists six different times between April 2013 and September 2013 in which Erin Maness committed theft of about $400 each time. The second count accuses Erin Maness of conspiring with her husband to commit theft by fraud.
According to Louisiana Revised Statute 15:1354, the penalty following conviction of racketeering is not more than a $1 million fine and/or up to 50 years in prison “when the amount of the violation exceeds ten thousand dollars shall be required to serve at least five years of the sentence without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence.”