WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Angela McGee Ring worked for Home Real Estate, a company that’s been in operation in Winston-Salem since 1906, for more than 10 years.
According to owners Sam Ogburn Sr. and his daughter, Elizabeth Ogburn, Ring was a valued employee and highly trusted.
But Assistant District Attorney Brian Taylor said in court that over an 11-year-period, Ring embezzled $531,675 from the company, forging Elizabeth Ogburn’s signature on checks, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.
The money was used to pay credit card and other personal bills, Taylor said. Elizabeth Ogburn said Ring also used the money to pay for vacations and expensive dinners.
Records also indicate that she paid money from the company to her husband, William Ring, and to the N.C. Department of Revenue.
On Monday, Ring, 45, of Serenity Pointe Drive pleaded guilty in Forsyth Superior Court to two counts of felony embezzlement. In accordance with a plea arrangement, Judge Susan Bray of Forsyth Superior Court gave Ring two consecutive sentences of 44 months to 62 months in prison, which is about seven years to 10 years in prison.
“It will take years to recoup that amount of money,” Elizabeth Ogburn said in court Monday.
Sihon Ogburn started Home Real Estate in 1906. His grandson, Sam Ogburn Sr., and Sam’s daughter, Elizabeth Ogburn, now run the company. The company manages residential and commercial properties throughout Winston-Salem.
Taylor said that Elizabeth Ogburn was reviewing the company’s three bank accounts in January 2013 when she noticed a discrepancy — one of the checks was made out to American Express for about $5,000 and had her signature on it. The company doesn’t have an account with American Express.
Elizabeth Ogburn contacted her father and they met with their business attorney and their certified public accountant. Then they met with Ring, who admitted that she had embezzled no more than $8,000. Ring said she would pay the money back but never did, Elizabeth Ogburn testified in court.
The company performed an internal audit and then later met with the Winston-Salem Police Department. Det. J.J. Johnson of the Winston-Salem police found that Ring had embezzled much more than $8,000. Sam Ogburn Sr. said she stole about $48,000 a year over the 11-year period.
Taylor said Ring never spent money on cars or real estate, the money always going to paying bills and other various items.
David Freedman, her attorney, said in court that Ring initially denied the extent of how much she stole but once she sat down with the Winston-Salem Police Department, she gave a full statement, admitting what she had done.
Ring apologized to the Ogburns before she was sentenced.
“I truly want them to know how sorry I am,” Ring said. “I never meant to be malicious or hurt anybody.”
Taylor said that the company wasn’t financially ruined because the money was embezzled over such a long period of time. Sam Ogburn Sr., however, said that the publicity surrounding Ring’s arrest has harmed the company. Elizabeth Ogburn and Sam Ogburn Sr. said in court that they paid Ring a good salary with benefits and that they had trusted her.
“How she can face her family, her community … is beyond my comprehension,” Sam Ogburn Sr. said. “Apparently, Ms. Ring has very little conscience.”
Taylor and Freedman said in court that there were offers for restitution but the Ogburns’ rejected them. Freedman said that Ring doesn’t have the money to pay the company back but that family members had made offers to reimburse the company.
“You cannot put a price on a breach of trust like this,” Sam Ogburn Sr. said.