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Woman used defense contractor’s credit cards to pay for cars, trips

By JOHN WHARTONStaff writer

A former receptionist for a military contracting firm in Hollywood, sentenced last winter to serve 18 months in jail from her guilty plea to a theft charge, agreed this week to pay $100,000 in restitution in the case.

St. Mary’s grand jurors indicted 42-year-old Cortina Lynn Nelson, also identified in court papers as Cortina Lynn Bell, last year on a charge of stealing between $10,000 and $100,000 from North Eastern Aeronautical Co., also known as Neany Inc. St. Mary’s sheriff’s deputies and Bureau of Criminal Investigations detectives earlier filed reports alleging that the woman used company credit cards to make unauthorized purchases.

“She remodeled her kitchen with the company card, bought three cars and sent her family on trips all over the place,” St. Mary’s Assistant State’s Attorney Daniel White said after Tuesday’s restitution hearing in circuit court.

The cars included a BMW and two Cadillacs, White said, adding that Nelson also used the company credit cards to buy $29,000 in gift cards. When a car dealership’s owner questioned Nelson about her use of a company credit card, she said the transactions were authorized because her job included using her vehicles to give rides to wounded soldiers and the families of deceased soldiers, according to reports from the investigation by detective Cpl. Robert Merritt.

St. Mary’s Circuit Judge Michael J. Stamm granted Nelson work-release privileges during her sentencing hearing in February, and ordered that she pay 40 percent of earnings to the company.

The judge sentenced Nelson to five years in prison, suspended to the jail sentence and five years of supervised probation.

White said this week that one of Nelson’s coworkers at the business likened her to Elvis Presley, “because she never wore the same outfit twice.”