Reporter Melissa Howell: Anything you would like to say about your case?
Kim Brooks: I don't have anything to say, thank you.
Monday was sentencing day for Kimberly Brooks, the bookkeeper for Demarais Equipment -- a farm equipment distributor in Orleans. She pleaded guilty to multiple charges after prosecutors say she stole $157,000 from her bosses. A judge sentenced her to 18 months behind bars.
The company was up for sale prior to the charges, but faced trouble due to missing funds.
"When they looked at the books and they saw there was little or nothing left at the end of the year, they were not able to see the payback ability to buy it," said Rene Desmarais, the company's owner.
Brooks apologized to the family in court, but the Desmarais' say they feel betrayed. "You trust someone like we did, you end up in a situation. You hope that something is done about it," Desmarais said.
The family said they weren't the only ones affected. Their previous employees were denied raises and bonuses because the company wasn't making a profit. "It effected their bottom line at the end of the year and the comfort of their homes and families because they didn't have that extra money to spend every week," Desmarais said.
Brooks' friends shared statements in court, saying she has been a staple in her community as a volunteer for the Orleans County Fair. Her attorney, David Sleigh, says she is now unemployable in the Northeast Kingdom due to the charges. "Without employment, she spent even more time this year trying to help out the fair and all that means to the Northeast Kingdom, so it's tough on her," he said.
The Desmarais family recovered the stolen funds through insurance, but Brooks now faces a restitution of nearly $163,000.
"She's an incredibly hard worker and she will work and contribute a minimum of 10 percent of her gross until that money is paid back, I have no doubt," Sleigh said.
Brooks will begin serving her sentence October 8th.