Former law firm worker pleads guilty to theft


AUBURN — An Oxford woman pleaded guilty this week to embezzling more than $200,000 from a prominent Lewiston law firm.

Amy L. Christiansen, 30, entered a guilty plea in Androscoggin County Superior Court to one count of Class B theft by unauthorized taking, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Prosecutors recommended capping her sentence at six years in prison, with all but two and a half years suspended. They also recommended she spend three years on probation after her release from prison. She can argue for a lighter sentence at a court hearing, set for next month.

A judge could impose a stiffer sentence. If that were to happen, Christiansen could withdraw her plea and go to trial.

Prosecutors said Christiansen stole more than $200,000 during the time she worked at Berman & Simmons law firm, from 2007 until early 2009. In late 2008 and into the following year, officials at the firm became aware of financial discrepancies and notified police, who spent months investigating the case.

According to a news release, Christiansen had taken money from a trust account. She came forward “just as an audit by outside accountants was about to get under way,” the firm said in a written statement. She confessed to having acted alone in taking the money for her personal use.

Christiansen is represented by a court-appointed attorney, having sworn an affidavit saying she is indigent. She was released on personal recognizance and was ordered not to have contact with the law firm.

A prosecutor said the law firm has been made aware of the state’s recommended sentence.

No client at the firm suffered financial loss, prosecutors said.

Restitution to the firm is expected to be addressed by a judge at sentencing, a prosecutor said.

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