General Crime

* John Sheehan sentenced to more than nine years in prison for embezzling from Bibbero Systems Inc in Petaluma

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The information systems manager of a Petaluma company that makes paper folders and dividers for medical offices, banks and courts was sentenced to more than nine years in prison this morning for stealing more than $1 million from the company. John C. Sheehan, 43, of Rohnert Park, pleaded no contest in August in Sonoma County Superior Court to grand theft, receiving stolen property and tax evasion in return for a 9-year, 4-month sentence.

He faced at least 12 years in prison if he were convicted of the 14 felony counts that were filed against him. Deputy District Attorney Amy Ariyoshi said Sheehan remodeled his house, built a swimming pool house and bought cars, computers and televisions with the money he stole between 2006 and this year. Ariyoshi said Sheehan set up a company, MP Technologies, with fictitious vendors in 2006 and billed Bibbero Systems Inc. for office supplies that were never provided.

Sheehan then cashed the checks in his name and used them for his home improvements and other personal needs. The embezzlement came to light when an office manager questioned one of the invoices from MP Technologies, learned its phone number was disconnected and researched it on the Internet. She then learned the company did not exist, said Michael Buckley, the company’s president since 1972.

Several employees of Bibbero Systems Inc., some in tears, told Sheehan he not only brought financial hardship to the business, but to the employees who were laid off. The company’s human resources manager Jodi Clark said the company was like a family and treated Sheehan like a family. “We were there when you needed someone to talk to. How could you treat us this way?” Clark asked. Buckley told Sheehan, “You systematically looted my company.”

Some of the stolen money came from a fund for employee bonuses, Buckley said. The family-owned company started in San Francisco in 1953, moved production to Berkeley, then to Petaluma. There once were 150 employees but are now 62, partially because medical records are now stored online, not in paper files, Buckley said. Between 5 and 10 layoffs can be attributed to the financial loss from the embezzlement, Buckley said.

Pay raises and bonus ceased in 2010, Buckley said. “That (medical records) business has radically changed. They’re not buying that stuff (folders and dividers) anymore,” defense attorney Walter Rubenstein said after the sentencing. Sheehan said he was very sorry for “his selfish actions.” “Remorse can’t make up for the hurt. I will try to right the wrong I have done,” he said. Judge Robert LaForge told Sheehan, “It’s clear you really destroyed a business that acted as a family.

The betrayal, devastation and destruction you left behind is overwhelming,” LaForge said. Sheehan was ordered to pay $1.1 million in restitution to the company. Rubenstein said Sheehan must serve half his prison term and will probably serve three-and-a-half years counting credits for time served in the Sonoma County jail. Asked if he thought the sentence was fair, Buckley said, “Getting this behind us is more important than a few more years in jail.”

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