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Woman arrested in one of biggest embezzlement cases in SLO County

A trusted employee of a San Luis Obispo County construction company is in jail tonight. 68-year-old Elizabeth Shaw is accused of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from that family business over the years.

The investigation lasted for about 10 months – when it was all said and done the Sheriff’s Office determined that Shaw had embezzled over a million dollars from her former employer.

Earlier today KCOY 12 Central Coast News spoke with that former employer over the phone.

“It was a surprise to us completely,” Winsor Construction owner Tim Winsor said.

Tim Winsor is the owner of Winsor Construction out of Cambria. He wasn’t able to talk on camera but did do a phone interview.

“The Sheriff’s Department has been really helpful and so has the District Attorney,” Winsor said.

Winsor has been busy – working seven days a week since the rain stopped – and assisting with this investigation.

“There’s been pages and binders and boxes full of papers that go back years and years that we had to go through and they had to go through,” Winsor said.

Monday morning, Winsor’s former employee and book keeper of over ten years, 68-year-old Elizabeth Shaw, turned herself into the Sheriff’s Department. She’s accused of embezzling over a million dollars from Winsor over a 12 year span.

SLO County Assistant District Attorney Lee Cunningham says embezzlement cases like this are never pretty but says they’re even worse when the victim is a family business.

“These are very hard, small businesses tend to be families, the employees work together for long periods of time and it’s the violation of trust that hits so hard,” SLO County Assistant District Attorney Lee Cunningham said.

Cunningham says this is one of the biggest embezzlement cases in San Luis Obispo County history.

“These are sad cases,” Cunningham said. “When it comes to light it’s just shattering for everyone involved.”

Shaw faces 12 counts of grand theft by embezzlement and is being held on a million dollars bond.

“Like all other crime, it won’t be tolerated here,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham says Winsor’s best bet at seeing any of that million dollars again would be through Shaw being convicted and paying restitution.

“The problem is in most of the embezzlement cases, once they come to light, the money is gone,” Cunningham said.

Shaw is set to be arraigned on Wednesday. She faces over 16 years in prison.

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