Wednesday, 17 April 2024

Woman pleads guilty to misdemeanor grand theft for stealing from employer

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – A woman accused of embezzling from her employer has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor grand theft in a deal that will require her to serve jail time, do community service and make restitution.

Michelle Lynn Davis, 25, reached the plea agreement with the Lake County District Attorney's Office late last month, according to Deputy District Attorney Rachel Abelson.

On July 21 she made the plea, with Judge Stephen Hedstrom sentencing her to three years probation, 45 days in jail, 360 hours of work and community service, a restitution fine of $100 and an agreement to repay her former employer, Shannon Ranches Inc., $50,000 in restitution, Abelson said.

Davis' attorney, Kristine Burk of Sebastopol, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Davis was arrested in January 2008 and originally charged with felony embezzlement and a special allegation for having allegedly taken more than $150,000 from the Clearlake Oaks-based Shannon Ranches, a vineyard management company where she had worked for five years, as Lake County News has reported.

Clay Shannon, who owns Shannon Ranches along with wife Margarita, said Wednesday that the amount Davis took was more like $240,000.

Abelson said the case against Davis alleged that between March 14, 2006, and Dec. 14, 2007, Davis had taken funds from the company.

Davis allegedly was using a company-issued credit card for shopping, vacations for herself and her boyfriend to Disneyland as well as out-of-country trips, and had also issued herself extra checks, Abelson said.

Abelson, who is familiar with forensic accounting and handles many of the embezzlement cases prosecuted through the District Attorney's Office, said Davis was smart at hiding the funds she allegedly was taking.

Eventually, however, the fact that money was missing came to light. “When their bills weren't getting paid, that's when it kind of came to a head,” Abelson said.

Abelson said a trial had been under way in the spring. “I was almost done with my evidence, we just had one more witness,” she said.

But that last witness, Margarita Shannon, became ill and Abelson said a mistrial resulted.

A new trial was set to start July 20 but the Shannons and their attorney, Peter Windrem, asked that the case be pleaded out as a misdemeanor so they wouldn't have to participate in a trial, Abelson said. They also came to an agreement with Davis and her attorney on the $50,000 restitution.

Clay Shannon said he's glad the matter is over with and behind he and his family, but added that Davis “got off easy.”

He said he was upset that the case took so long to come to a close.

However, Shannon said, “Margarita and I just have too many great things going on” in their business and here in the county.

“Times are tough in this economy and we have no time to spend goofing around in trial,” he said.

Abelson said Judge Hedstrom wants Davis monitored, and has scheduled a hearing for Dec. 13 to determine her restitution payments and keep track of her situation.

The hearing was set at that time to give Davis the opportunity to serve her 45 days in jail. Abelson said Davis is eligible to sign up for electronic home monitoring.

If Davis doesn't repay all of her restitution during her probation period, Abelson said a civil judgment can be issued for what's still owed.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at

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