Alleged embezzler has brief court appearance

Diane Maxine Richards leaves the Mohave County Superior Courthouse in her vehicle Tuesday after a brief appearance in front of Judge Billy Sipe.

Photo by Bob Leal.

Diane Maxine Richards leaves the Mohave County Superior Courthouse in her vehicle Tuesday after a brief appearance in front of Judge Billy Sipe.

KINGMAN – The woman who authorities say committed the largest known embezzlement in city history had a brief appearance in Mohave County Superior Court on Tuesday.

Diane Maxine Richards, a former longtime city employee, is accused of stealing more than $1.1 million dollars from the city.

Her attorney, Adam Zickerman of Flagstaff, told Judge Billy Sipe, “I don’t have all of the discovery from the state.” He said he was concerned that although he had received thousands of pages of discovery, there is still information missing.

Zickerman said he needed all of the documentation so he could properly defend Richards, who faces roughly two dozen felony theft, forgery and misuse of public money charges that allegedly began in July of 2007 and ended in January of 2015.

Arizona Assistant Attorney General Beverly Rudnick, who represented the prosecution via telephone, said the regular attorney on the case was fulfilling military duties and that she was filling in for him.

Rudnick said she was “embarrassed” and “sorry” for not having documents available to Zickerman. “This won’t happen again and I apologize,” said Rudnick.

The case carries two aggravating circumstances. The first is the amount allegedly taken, and the second was Richards’ position as a public servant. She was the interim finance director and budget analyst.

Richards’ bond was initially $100,000, but was reduced by Sipe to $10,000.

Mia Garcia, a spokeswoman at the Attorney General’s office, said Richards stole money from the employee benefits account by misusing her position as its security manager.

Richards, who was 59 when arrested in January, altered the access settings and gave herself “sole authority to both initiate and approve transactions,” Garcia said.

Richards is alleged to have transferred money out of the account to pay off 17 personal lines of credit and used a large portion of the money to cover cash advances taken out at casinos in Laughlin.

Also, Richards allegedly misused a city of Kingman credit card for personal expenses such as cell phone, utility and car insurance bills.

Richards will be back in court at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 14 in front of Judge Billy Sipe.