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Woman gets more than three years in prison for embezzling $250,000

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Posted: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 6:59 am, Tue Mar 29, 2011.

A former property management employee was sentenced to three years and four months in prison after pleading guilty to embezzling $250,000 from her employer.

Sivalatha "Siva" Sadasivam, 42, pleaded guilty to felony counts of embezzlement and grand theft in court on Monday.

Her former employer, RPM Company, discovered that she was taking money after conducting an audit and contacted police after finding discrepancies, said Detective Lee Patterson with the Lodi Police Department.

Lodi police arrested Sadasivam after searching her home in Tracy in December 2009. Investigators found a 55-inch TV and a drawer full of designer shoes.

While she was the company's vice president of operations for Northern California, Sadasivam pocketed more than $250,000 over five years.

She scammed the company, which has its main office in Lodi, out of money by turning in false reimbursement receipts.

As part of her job, she was supposed to purchase $100 Safeway gift cards to give to the company's tenants as a rental incentive.

Sadasivam purchased about eight grocery gift cards at a time. Instead of giving the gift cards to tenants, she kept the cards and exchanged them for other retail gift cards, including Best Buy, Nordstrom and Visa. The company would also reimburse her for the cost of the cards. She stole $114,000 through the card scheme.

She also turned in $160,000 worth of fake reimbursement receipts for the costs to hire people to pass out fliers for the company's rental units.

Sadasivam started with the company in 2002, and resigned in 2009 after the investigation started, RPM company controller Marilyn Mack said.

Patterson said this case highlights the importance of regularly conducting company audits. Owners can owe taxes or even lose their business if an employee is stealing.

"No matter how successful your business or how much you trust your employees, even if they are your friends or family, you need to do an independent audit," Patterson said.

Once Mack realized the figures didn't add up from the internal audit, she contacted the corporate office, and RPM contacted the police.

While the company regularly conducts internal audits, she said they didn't necessarily include Sadasivam's position or funding.

"This particular person was in a position of authority and trust, and violated that authority and trust," she said.

According to a previous article, Sadasivam and her husband lived in a nice home in Tracy that was purchased in 2006 or 2007, and she drove a Lexus sport-utility vehicle.

Sadasivam holds dual citizenship between the U.S. and Malaysia, Patterson said.

Lodi investigators also seized the TV and took photographs of a drawer full of designer shoes, including Jimmy Choo.

Her husband also had a number of name-brand watches including Rolex and Armani. In a previous article, investigators said he was not arrested because there was no evidence that he was aware of the crimes.

RPM Company formed in 1977 as Robertson Homes and has since expanded. It has built and developed about 22,000 apartments across the country and renovated more than 5,000 in California. The company also manages more than 30,000 apartments.

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodinews.com or read her blog at www.lodinews.com/blogs/city_buzz.

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