It's common for criminals to claim they don't have enough money to pay court costs for attorneys or even to pay their victims when restitution is ordered.
But Friday in a local courtroom, a convicted embezzler ran into someone who really hurt her tale of poverty.
It was the one person she didn't want to see when claiming she didn't have enough money to pay her victim back - a person who not only is a witness that she does have some money, but also knows that she still has expensive taste.
Nikki Slaughter admitted she betrayed her bosses while working as a bookkeeper and office manager for Germantown Partners.
Scott Chambers, owner of the real estate development company, discovered the theft as the company struggled financially in 2008.
He and his partner actually kept paying Slaughter a $42,000 salary while they cut their own pay to $36,000. But that kindness was not repaid.
Slaughter was discovered and admitted to stealing $46,000. She avoided jail but was put on 10 years probation and ordered to pay back Chambers in monthly installments of $500 until the debt was repaid.
Every six months, the court holds a hearing to see if she can pay a little more so that Chambers can pay off loans that are still causing problems. That includes some $7,000 in new interest since the theft was discovered.
"We'd love to close the door on this," Chambers said. "Having to come back every six months is certainly very emotional until it's resolved."
Instead, Slaughter pays less. In a previous hearing, she had the amount reduced to $400 a month after she claimed financial hardship.
Friday, she sought to have it reduced even further to $300 a month, but the district attorney said "no."
The DA presented a surprise witness, real estate agent Vicki Johnson, who brought a surprise piece of testimony.
"They entered into a lease purchase contract," Johnson said.
The Slaughters are buying a $294,000 home in Hendersonville. The 3,000-square-foot home is an all-brick beauty with hardwood floors in a tree-lined neighborhood.
One doesn't need to be a lawyer to follow the prosecution's argument. If the Slaughters could afford a beautiful $300,000 home, why are they asking for the restitution payments to be reduced?
The Slaughters' attorney, Lisa Naylor, argued the down payment was only $1,500, and the lease purchase contract suggests the Slaughters have no savings.
Now, the judge must decide if the $300,000 home is enough proof that the Slaughters can afford to keep up their end of the restitution order.
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