KEENE, N.H. (AP) – A 69-year-old woman with lung cancer has been sentenced to prison for embezzling more than $1.5 million from a New Hampshire toy company.

The lawyer for Anne M. Everett, of Candia, said she will probably die behind bars.

“Mrs. Everett is not long for this world,” said public defender Michael Shklar. “That’s a sad fact.”

Everett pleaded guilty in 2007 to masterminding an embezzlement scene that targeted Douglas Co., the family-owned toy company where she worked for 44 years in the accounting department.

As the department’s controller, she was responsible for paying bills, signing checks and reconciling accounts.

On Monday, Judge John Arnold ordered her to serve seven to 14 years behind bars and pay more than $1.5 million in restitution to Douglas Co., which manufactures and imports stuffed animals and other toys.

But Everett gave most of the stolen money to an alleged extortionist and a group of people she considered to be her family that are not related to her, according to court testimony.

The rest of the money was used to pay bills and play bingo at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, according to court testimony.

“This has been a breach of trust and friendship that has been very detrimental to our company,” said Douglas President Scott Clarke in court. “She was a friend to my parents. She was a friend to all of us. Something like this should not go unpunished.”

Everett wrote checks from the Douglas account from 2003 through 2006 and possibly before then. She also opened a fraudulent credit account under the company’s name, prosecutors said.

She wanted to continue providing for a group of people that took her in when she moved to Keene from Maine as a young woman after her small inheritance dried up, prosecutors said.

But Everett was caught after she was allegedly blackmailed for more money by a “nephew,” Donald Whitten, 59, formerly of Keene. When Everett allegedly stopped giving him money, Whitten sent an anonymous e-mail to two regional newspapers that blew the whistle on the embezzlement scheme, Shklar said.

Whitten pleaded guilty to attempted theft by extortion and receiving stolen property. He is scheduled to be sentenced June 12 in Cheshire County Superior Court.

Everett will receive cancer treatments in prison.

She may be sent to the New Hampshire State Prison in Concord, because the facility has a full-time nursing staff that can provide long-term care to inmates, said Department of Corrections spokesman Jeffrey Lyons.

Information from: The Keene Sentinel,

AP-ES-06-03-08 1914EDT

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