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Tucson Museum Bookkeeper Given 5 Year Term for Embezzling Nearly $1 Million

(Phoenix, Ariz. - Sept. 3, 2009) Attorney General Terry Goddard announced that Ruth Sons, 62, of Tucson, was sentenced today in Pima County Superior Court to five years in prison. She must also pay $973,010 in restitution.

Between 2003 and 2008, Sons allegedly embezzled $973,010 from the Tucson Museum of Art (TMA), where she was employed as a bookkeeper and accountant. Last month, Sons pleaded guilty to one count of theft and one count of fraudulent schemes and artifices, both felonies.

“Sons violated not only the trust of her employer but also the entire Tucson community,” Goddard said. “Today’s sentencing shows that when law enforcement and community organizations work together, justice is served and everyone benefits. I appreciate the great work done by the Tucson Museum of Art staff, the Tucson Police Department and our prosecutors to bring this case to completion."

According to investigators, Sons’ position as an accountant gave her access to the museum’s payroll, museum shop deposits and petty cash accounts. For more than five years she allegedly conducted the elaborate embezzlement scheme, which included: 

  • Forging the signatures of the museum’s CFO and Director. 
  • Stealing cash intended for deposit from sales at the museum shop. 
  • Manipulating the museum’s general accounting ledger to conceal the embezzlement.

The defendant began her employment at TMA in 1990 as a bookkeeper. She was indicted in May after the scheme was discovered during an internal audit conducted by the museum last year. The museum turned the case over to Tucson police for investigation.

This case was investigated by Tucson Police Detective Becky Parris and prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Michael Jette.