A Bluff City woman accused of stealing more than $60,000 from her Kingsport employers has been convicted of stealing an amount less than that.
Lisa Steele Lester, 33, 224 Flatwoods Road, Bluff City, was found guilty Tuesday of theft over $10,000 but less than $60,000, a Class C felony, at the end of a two-day trial in Sullivan County Criminal Court. The jury recommended a fine of $5,000, and sentencing is set for Oct. 7. She was tried on a charge of theft over $60,000, a Class B felony.
In closing arguments Tuesday morning, Sullivan County Assistant District Attorneys Laura Rayment and William Harper argued Lester had bilked John and Rita Mitchell, owners of Clean Connection, a home-based cleaning business, of that much money between December of 2007 and December 2008. They alleged she wrote too many paychecks for herself and her husband for amounts well in excess of their authorized pay. Prosecutors also argued Lester exercised unauthorized control over $35,000 from the Mitchells' line of credit and deposited it into their account to replace the funds she had stolen, and contended that she lied about securing new clients so she could pay herself undeserved commission.