By Sam Jack
Two former employees of Times-Sentinel Newspapers have been charged with stealing at least $126,000 from the business.
The accused, Diane R. Neises and Victoria J. Vinciguerra, made their initial appearances in Sedgwick County District Court on Tuesday morning. Both were assigned public defenders.
Neises worked as bookkeeper for Times-Sentinel Newspapers starting in fall 2009.
Her daughter, Vinciguerra, started working as a salesperson and office assistant shortly thereafter. Vinciguerra took over as bookkeeper and office manager in 2015.
According to a criminal complaint, Neises is accused of stealing between $25,000 and $100,000 from July 8, 2011, to Dec. 6, 2013.
Under a second theft charge, Neises is accused of stealing $1,000 to $25,000 between Jan. 8, 2010, and June 29, 2011.
Neises is also accused of “computer unlawful acts” – accessing a computer to defraud or to illegally obtain money, property or services.
If convicted on all three counts, Neises could be sentenced to up to 26 months in prison, assuming she has no prior offenses. However, Kansas sentencing guidelines recommend two years of probation.
The charges against Vinciguerra are more serious. Vinciguerra is accused of stealing more than $100,000 from Times-Sentinel Newspapers between Jan. 2, 2014, and March 22, 2017. She is also accused of computer unlawful acts over the same timespan.
Assuming no prior offenses, state sentencing guidelines indicate she could serve up to 43 months in prison if convicted.
The theft charge against Vinciguerra falls into Kansas sentencing guidelines’ “border box.” That means that if Vinciguerra is convicted, the judge will presume she is not entitled to probation, but may consider a petition for probation if Vinciguerra demonstrates she can and will participate in a rehabilitative program.
Preliminary hearings for both Neises and Vinciguerra have been set for the morning of Wednesday, July 5.
The owners of Times-Sentinel Newspapers, Paul Rhodes and Travis Mounts, chose not to comment for this story.
In addition to The Times-Sentinel, the newspaper group publishes two other weekly papers, the Haysville Sun-Times and the Conway Springs Star & Argonia Argosy, and two Wichita neighborhood monthly papers, the East Wichita News and the WestSide Story.