A judge Wednesday upheld the 12-year sentence a Fredericksburg jury recommended in December for an 85-year-old woman involved in the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars from a city business.

Mary Catherine Parr of Stafford County was previously convicted of three counts of embezzlement and six counts of passing forged checks.

Judge Gordon Willis imposed the 12-year sentence and ordered Parr to make restitution of more than $836,200.

According to the evidence presented by prosecutor Justin Witt during a two-day trial, Parr handled accounts receivable for I.C.E. Heating and Cooling on Central Road between 2013 and April 2018. Her daughter, Janis Lee Bowen, was in charge of accounts payable.

Bowen is serving a six-year prison sentence for her role in the conspiracy.

The women used a stamp signature to write company checks that ended up in their personal accounts. Both woman have insisted that the amount of money they took wasn’t near the amount attributed to them.

The company owner hired outside help to look over the company’s finances after noticing dwindling profits. That led to an investigation by the Fredericksburg Police Department that resulted in the arrests of Bowen and Parr.

Benjamin Burchett, Parr’s attorney, asked Willis on Wednesday to drastically reduce the jury sentence and to allow Parr to serve her time on home incarceration. He cited her age and declining health as reasons for mercy, pointing out that she’s had two major heart surgeries.

Prosecutor Justin Witt said Parr, who has a criminal record dating back to 1957, has already received her share of mercy from the justice system.

“Ms. Parr put herself in this situation and she certainly knew what she was doing was wrong,” Witt said. “At some point, the bell has to be rung.”

Parr apologized for her actions prior to being sentenced. “I’m not a bad person,” she said. “I’ve made a lot of bad decisions.”

Parr’s legal troubles aren’t over. She has been charged with seven felony probation violations in Loudoun County stemming from grand larceny convictions there. A trial is scheduled for March 9.

Keith Epps: 540/374-5404

kepps@freelancestar.com

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