July 21, 2008
A Microsoft manager who was sentenced to nearly two years in prison on Friday for embezzling almost $1 million from the company partly blamed her actions on the fact that "I was on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week" at the software maker.
"It began to take its toll," said Carolyn Gudmundson, 46, in a presentencing letter to the judge overseeing her case. Gudmundson worked as a domain name manager at Microsoft's MSN division from 2000 to 2004. Her job was to purchase Web domain names that were relevant to the company's various lines of business. In December, she was formally indicted for falsifying records in order to obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars in expense reimbursements from Microsoft to which she was not entitled. She pleaded guilty to embezzlement in January. In her letter to the judge, Gudmundson blamed her actions on job stress, financial problems, and personal tragedy. "We had a huge undertaking of trying to secure domains related to our brand and business strategies. ... Microsoft had over 10,000 domains globally. The team was me. I was on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It began to take its toll," Gudmundson wrote. Gudmundson said chronic money worries added to the anxiety that she said ultimately impaired her judgment. Part of the problem, she said, was overspending on friends and family. "I was a big Microsoft executive and had to live up to those expectations," Gudmundson wrote. She also said that the death of her brother Tom in 2003 contributed to her troubles. "My world stopped," she said. Prosecutors in the case argued that Gudmundson mostly wanted to fund a lavish lifestyle. In sentencing Gudmundson to 22 months in prison in Washington state federal court, Judge Ricardo Martinez rejected prosecutors' request that she serve 27 months. However, he ordered Gudmundson to immediately pay more than $923,000 in restitution to Microsoft.
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