Admitted embezzler accused of stealing from cancer-stricken friend

PUYALLUP, Wash. -- A Bonney Lake woman pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to embezzling from her company in order to pay restitution for an earlier embezzlement case.

Jeanette Sturtz is a wife, mother and grandmother. She's also a confessed embezzler, and she's now accused of embezzling from a woman in the late stages of cancer.

"Truly, this is a troubling criminal history with a troubling timeline," Pierce County Court Commissioner Megan Foley said of the case.

In 2011, Sturtz admitted to embezzling more than $10,000 while working as treasurer of her homeowners association in Bonney Lake.

She paid that money back, but prosecutors think she did so by embezzling from Blue Sky Landscaping of Puyallup, where she worked as a controller.

Lynell Swayze helped her get the job.

"She was just my friend for 17 years, and I thought she was there as a support system because her husband also had cancer," Swayze said.

Swayze has stage four breast cancer.

"I just found out that it spread to my liver and to my lymph nodes and my neck. So it's in my bones," she said.

And now she has to deal with the court proceedings against a former friend accused of embezzling $25,000 form Swayze's husband's landscaping company.

"I believe her family has paid restitution. She did not pay restitution, as far as I know," Swayze said.

Sturtz's attorney said his client's problems center around a gambling addiction, and he said she's now getting help from Gamblers Anonymous.

"She's addressing those issues responsibly. I think that is the important thing here," said attorney Jay Berneburg.

Even though Sturtz has never apologized to her, Swayze said she just wants to see her former friend get help for her gambling problems, whether it's from behind bars or in some other fashion.