Former Sonoma Golf Club employee sentenced to jail in $392K embezzlement

A Santa Rosa woman who admitted embezzling $392,000 from the Sonoma Golf Club was sentenced Wednesday to a year in the county jail.

Lidia Montano, 53, stole the money while she was the club's business manager from 2007 to 2010 by giving herself unauthorized raises and paying personal bills with company accounts.

She spent the money on travel, shopping and restaurants, apparently in an attempt to maintain a comfortable lifestyle after her husband lost his job, prosecutor Amy Ariyoshi said.

"Instead of curtailing her expenses, she just made up the difference," Ariyoshi said.

She was caught in August 2010 while away from work on an Italian vacation. The payroll company called to inquire about discrepancies and reached the club's manager, who launched an internal audit.

Montano was fired from her $87,000-a-year job and arrested. She made a full confession and in December pleaded no contest to a count of felony grand theft with a white-collar crime enhancement.

She faced up to five years in state prison, but Judge Virginia Marcoida gave her a break, citing her lack of a criminal record, her age and mental health issues.

Also, Montano has repaid $190,000 of the $392,735 that was stolen.

She had been free on bail but was taken into custody to begin serving her time. Under the terms of the sentence she will not be eligible for work release. She could be out in about nine months.

General Manager Mike Kosak, who hired Montano in 2005, said she should be barred from working in accounting again.

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