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Galveston County
Jury Sentences Bookkeeper to 20 Years in Prison for Embezzling
Press Release
Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Galveston – On December 18th, 2017, after seven days of trial, Cassaundra Dawn Nichols was found guilty of first degree felony theft by a jury in the 405th District Court.  The jury heard punishment evidence on December 19th and sentenced Nichols to 20 years in the institutional division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice as well as an additional $10,000 fine.  Nichols had been eligible for probation. 

Cassaundra Nichols was indicted on August 13, 2015.  The indictment alleged that Nichols stole over $200,000 from Benno’s Enterprises pursuant to a common scheme or continuing course of conduct that began on or about June 11, 2009 and continued to on or about October 15, 2014.

Trial began on December 11th, 2017.  Cassaundra Nichols had been a Friendswood police officer before she started working for Benno’s Enterprises.  She started working for Benno’s Enterprises before Hurricane Ike.  Trial evidence revealed that Nichols was treated well by Benno’s Enterprises. Nichols received assistance with plane tickets, insurance, more than one vehicle purchase, and she occasionally received cash loans. Nonetheless, Nichols engaged in a pattern of increasing greed and deception to steal from her employer.   Nichols role as the company bookkeeper gave her access to the company accounts and she exploited those accounts to make payments to her personal credit cards.  During the final six months of 2009 Nichols transferred approximately $7,500 of company money to her credit cards. The next year she took over $70,000. By 2013 Nichols was transferring over $100,000 of her employer’s money to her personal credit cards a year. In total Nichols received over $440,000 in payments to her credit cards. 

Cassaundra Nichols hid her theft by altering bookkeeping records.  She disguised payments to her credit cards and misstated the actual finances of the company in a multitude of ways.  By the end of 2012 Nichols was not even sending the company’s tax payments to the IRS.  Her bookkeeping records would reflect payments to the IRS, but in actuality she was not paying the taxes and was instead paying herself. 

Defense attorney Susan Criss represented Cassuandra Nichols at trial.  Cassaundra Nichols defense was that she received the payments to her credit cards with the consent of her employer, Benno Deltz.  Nichols further alleged a litany of bad acts by her employer.  Benno Deltz denied these claims and asserted that he had not been made aware of the credit card payments and that they were never allowed.  Under cross examination, Cassaundra Nichols admitted that she had sent and received the money. She also stated that she did not pay personal income taxes on the $440,000 she received.  Nichols additionally admitted that the last years of her employment she was receiving a paycheck but that she was not actually keeping up with bookkeeping or paying the company’s taxes. Nichols further claimed that she had worked unpaid overtime and that she was entitled to deduct this unpaid overtime from the amount alleged to have been stolen.  The jury convicted the defendant as charged. 

During the punishment phase of trial the State introduced evidence of Nichols’s prior state jail felony deferred adjudication for endangering a child as well a civil judgement against Nichols that had been entered prior to her theft which Nichols had not repaid.  Assistant District Attorney Robert Buss argued to the jury that Nichols could not be trusted on probation and that she deserved to be sent to prison because of the amount of money that was stolen and the deception involved in the crime. The jury delivered the punishment verdict in the afternoon.  Nichols will be eligible for parole when she has completed one fourth of her prison sentence. 

Galveston Police Department (GPD) Det. Sgt. Jeremy Kylen initially took the reins of the criminal investigation.  GPD handed over the investigation to Jeremy McAfee, the District Attorney’s Office Certified Fraud Examiner, when the amount of records involved became voluminous.  Jeremy McAfee finished the investigation.  Both Jeremy McAfee and Jeremy Kylen testified as witnesses at trial.




Remembering Jim Guidry


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