Bee reporters answer questions about area crime news, trends and other issues.
QUESTION: What happened to Nina Butler, who embezzled from her employer, Normac, in the late '80s or '90s?
Submitted by: Boston, Sacramento
ANSWER: Nina Rae Butler was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1991 for stealing more than $6 million from her employer.
A Sacramento County jury convicted Butler, then 38 years old, of 16 counts of forgery and theft from Normac Inc. of North Highlands, a wholesale distributor of sprinkler supplies. The jury could not agree on a 17th count, which alleged that Butler wrote a check against insufficient funds that was accepted by and cost the Bank of America $500,000.
According to stories in The Bee, evidence presented at trial and court documents showed that Butler altered 83 checks drawn on Normac and deposited them into her own personal business accounts from May 1986 to March 1990.
Normac initially dismissed the losses as inventory and computer problems. But in early 1990, faced with a cash-flow emergency, the officers of the company sat down with Butler to discuss the situation and she offered to loan them $2 million from a trust fund that apparently didn't exist.
Butler, described as a free-wheeling, generous person, had been telling acquaintances and associates that she didn't really need her salary of $1,400 to $1,750 a month because she owned a 34-room villa and a winery in Italy and was making $1 million a year in profits.
After Normac officers took her up on the loan offer, Butler persuaded the manager of the Country Club branch of the Bank of America to turn over a half-million-dollar cashier's check to Normac, writing a post-dated $500,000 check on her own account.
The branch manager who released the cashier's check to Normac, based solely on Butler's promise to cover the amount, said she had convinced him she was a "financial wizard" with an "eccentric style" and considerable resources.
Have a Sacto 911 question? Submit it here.