Ex-partner of Wersching sentenced

December 15, 2008 10:25:17 PM PST
An ex-insurance agency partner of former San Francisco 49ers place-kicker Ray Wersching has been sentenced in federal court to three years and three months in prison for embezzling more than $8 million.

Mary Ann Locke, 60, of San Jose, was sentenced in San Francisco Dec. 10 by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, who also ordered her to pay $8.3 million in restitution.

Locke was formerly a partner with the football player in the Ray Wersching Insurance Agency, which according to court documents went out of business in 2001.

She pleaded guilty in 2006 to embezzling more than $8 million in customers' insurance premiums that should have been remitted by the agency to Farmers Insurance Group between 1997 and 2000.

Locke also pleaded guilty to two other counts of wire fraud and illegally participating in the insurance business while having a previous felony conviction involving dishonesty. The previous conviction, in Alameda County Superior Court in 1992, was for forgery.

Wersching, 58, of San Carlos, was charged in a related case in 2006.

Wersching, who was a member of the 49ers from 1977 to 1987 and played in two 49er Super Bowl wins, was initially accused of five counts, including embezzling the $8 million and knowingly hiring a convicted felon.

But last year, prosecutors dropped all but one of the counts as Wersching pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor charge of failing to file an income tax return for the insurance agency for 2000.

He was sentenced by a different judge on Dec. 18, 2007, to six months of home detention and two years of probation.

Documents in both Wersching's and Locke's cases were sealed until Dec. 12, following Locke's sentencing.

Wersching's defense lawyer, Charles Smith of Redwood City, could not be reached for comment today. But in a letter to Breyer last week, Smith contended that Wersching was duped and financially ruined by Locke and that Locke spent the embezzled money on gambling and an extravagant lifestyle.

Smith wrote, "An honest good man has been ruined by Locke."

Locke's lawyer, Assistant Federal Public Defender Steve Kalar, and U.S. attorney's office spokesman Jack Gillund declined to comment on the two cases.

Locke was originally indicted on 10 counts in 2005, but in her 2006 plea agreement, which was kept sealed until last week, prosecutors dropped seven of the counts.

Breyer ordered Locke to begin serving her sentence on Dec. 29.


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