Items of Atascadero woman convicted of embezzlement are being sold by local online auction site
By Neil Farrell
ATASCADERO — The ill-gotten gains of an Atascadero woman convicted of embezzlement and sentenced to prison are being sold by a local online auction site, with many of the valuable jewelry, sports and rock ‘n’ roll collectibles potentially worth tens of thousands of dollars.
It’s believed to be the first time that the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office has done an auction in an attempt to get restitution for a crime victim, explained Deputy District Attorney Eric Dobroth, who has been with the County DA’s Office for about 15 years.
The items being sold on the SLO Cal Estate Auctions website, a company owned by Doug and Jennifer Little of Morro Bay, were seized by authorities from the home of Joy Noel Wilde, who was 43 when she was convicted of felony embezzlement last year.
Wilde pled no contest to 18 charges of embezzlement, two counts of forgery, and one count of embezzlement of a local construction company, according to a DA’s Office news release. She was sentenced to 10 years and four months in state prison on March 3, 2021.
Among the allegations Wilde faced was for stealing over $500,000, an admission that the DA said “requires Wilde to serve her sentence in State Prison, as opposed to County Jail.”
The DA’s Major Fraud Unit investigated the case and discovered that over a more than three-year period, Wilde stole $877,123 from her former employer, Greg Wiemann Construction, while she was the bookkeeper and office manager, the news release said.
“The theft scheme involved Ms. Wilde passing 64 fraudulent checks and attempting to pass three others,” the news release said.
Speaking to what is considered a long prison sentence for what is essentially a theft case, Judge Jesse Marino commented on the “outrageously large amount of money” taken by Ms. Wilde, according to the news release, and concluded that the decade-long prison sentence was warranted, “due to its sheer volume.”
The victim and business owner, Greg Wiemann, was reportedly present at sentencing “and recounted the significant impact of Ms. Wilde’s theft in a letter to the court,” according to the news release. Judge Marino recognized that Wiemann had placed a great deal of trust in Wilde, and that Wilde’s deceit was “the most difficult aspect of this case” for the victim.
So with a conviction and sentencing secured, the DA’s Office turned to her order of restitution, which was considerable. Dobroth said they had seized the items that ended up in the auction, and whatever amount they sell for, will be given to Wiemann and credited against Wilde’s restitution order.
The items they seized were appraised, and whatever the victim wanted to keep he could, and the court order mentions several items Wiemann chose to keep. The appraised value was applied against her total restitution amount, and the auction proceeds also counting.
Whatever amount the auction comes up short, Wilde will still be responsible for paying back. Dobroth is hopeful the auction brings amounts near the true value of the items, and gets as much as possible back to the victim.
That agreement was formalized with a court filing dated April 4, 2022. Wilde agreed to the sale, relinquishing ownership of all the items. The document also cleared the way for the auction, which went live on May 5.
Dobroth said such auctions, while extremely rare, are “one way to liquidate ill-gotten gains and to get the victim some money back.” Law enforcement has often seized items proven to be purchased with dirty money — thefts and drug dealing mainly — and often include expensive cars.
Dobroth said his office decided this would be the best way to get restitution for the victim. He noted that an embezzlement case — of which there have been several throughout the county in recent years — are especially tough on victims, who feel a sense of betrayal.
“For the most part,” he said, “a bookkeeper is like part of the family for these small companies. One of the toughest parts is the betrayal that they feel.”
Wilde apparently “laundered” the money she stole by buying, in many cases, very expensive fashion bling. Among the items that are for sale are:
• A HUBLOT 90 facet cushion cut, .5 carat Crown of Light Diamond “Big Bang” Aero Watch, which a purchase receipt accompanying the item’s listing priced at $43,450 when Wilde purchased it new
• A custom-designed and ordered platinum bracelet with 11.5 carats of cushion cut and emerald diamonds, with an original purchase price of $104,000
• An 18K white gold, 2.37-carat weight diamond and 48-carat Tanzanite “Crown of Light” necklace that Wilde purchased for $85,067
Among the sports memorabilia are mini footballs and helmets signed by former Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten; and by San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice. (Whitten is destined for the Hall of Fame too).
Among the music related items, there is an electric guitar signed by country music great Keith Urban; an acoustic guitar signed by Demi Lovato; two autographed tour cards signed by the members of Kiss (from their “End of the Road” World Tour, which is still in progress); plus concert set lists signed by the members of Metallica, and more.
There is also a collection of some rather extravagant custom shoes in different styles — high-top sneakers covered in gold leaf, Christian Louboutin stiletto heels made of snakeskin, and several pairs of knee-high Louboutin sneakers. There are also several high-price purses and clutches.
The auction is ongoing until 7 p.m. June 9, when the bidding will start to shut down. The auction closes completely at 8:15 p.m. on June 9.
SLO Cal Estate Auctions is actually a number of several smaller auction companies, operating under one umbrella. Jennifer Little said auctions being done out of other areas — with individual auctions being held out of Visalia and Fresno, Arroyo Grande, SLO, and down to Orcutt and Santa Maria — are through those individual companies, which lease the auction software from SLO Cal Estate Auctions.
As estate auctioneers, the company’s clients are mainly the heirs of someone who has died and left a lifetime’s worth of accumulated things behind — from collectibles, fine art, antique furnishings, clothing, tools and just about anything one can imagine. Family members often don’t know what things are worth, or how to dispose of them.
Jennifer Little said one Morro Bay client was left a house full of what they considered worthless items. But rooting through drawers and digging into hiding spots uncovered rare silver and gold coins, and gold jewelry worth tens of thousand of dollars, all found hiding in furniture the family was going to take to Goodwill.
See: slocalestateauctions.com for more information, to set up an account and bid on items, or just to settle your curiosity. The auction of Wilde’s ill-gotten gains is labeled, “San Luis Obispo County, Office of the District Attorney Property Seizure Auction.”
If the DA’s auction of Wilde’s items proves successful, it could lead to the sale locally of more ill-gotten gains in the interest of justice and compensating crime victims.