BROOKSVILLE — A Spring Hill woman accused of embezzling nearly $60,000 from the travel agency for which she worked will avoid prison time if she pays the money back, but the clock is ticking.
Gina Beck, 37, pleaded guilty Thursday in Hernando County Circuit Court to three counts, including organized fraud. As part of the agreement reached with the State Attorney's Office, Beck must pay a total of $58,000 in restitution to Melva and Marshall Leventhal, who own Diana's Travel in Spring Hill.
Of that, at least $30,000 must be paid by Beck's sentencing date in January. If she meets that condition, she will be allowed to withdraw her guilty plea, enter a pretrial intervention program and pay the balance in installments. If she doesn't meet the January deadline, the deal is off and Circuit Judge Daniel Merritt Jr. would sentence Beck as he sees fit. The charges carry a maximum prison term of 35 years.
Beck served as office manager for the company for several years and, authorities say, used a variety of schemes to steal the money. Investigators say Beck processed fraudulent refunds to credit cards that belonged to her, used the company's credit card for personal expenses and forged checks.
The Leventhals told Merritt that they agreed with the deal, though Melva Leventhal said they suspect Beck stole as much as twice as she is being ordered pay.
But in accepting the deal, the Leventhals had another person in mind.
"She has a young son, so I don't want her to be in prison," Melva Leventhal said.