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Ex-nonprofit bookkeeper sentenced to two years for tax crimes

A former McLean resident who embezzled more than $800,000 from a nonprofit tied to the Unification Church and then failed to report the income on her tax returns was sentenced to two years in prison, prosecutors said.

Sookyeong Kim Sebold, the former bookkeeper of the nonprofit, was sentenced to the prison time on Friday and was also ordered to pay $133,548 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.

She was convicted in December of filing a false 2005 tax return and tax evasion for the year 2005.

Sebold, 52, had worked as a bookkeeper and treasurer for the Korean Cultural and Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit organization that was founded to promote Korean culture and ballet. The foundation was primarily funded by the Unification Church International, which had ties to the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

During Sebold's trial in federal court in Alexandria, evidence showed that from 2002 to 2005, she embezzled more than $800,000 from the foundation and used the money for day trading, gambling and other personal expenses, according to prosecutors.

In 2005 alone, Sebold took more than $400,000 from the foundation and lost most of it because of her spending. She spent $47,000 on personal expenses such as food, restaurants, travel, retail and gas. She also spent nearly 100 days at casinos during that year, according to a court document filed by the prosecution.

Sebold did not report the funds she took on her 2005 income tax return, which resulted in her not paying more than $133,000 in taxes. Prosecutors said she also failed to report the money that she embezzled on tax forms in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

The two-year prison sentence was a compromise between what prosecutors and defense lawyers had requested. Prosecutors asked that Sebold receive a sentence of more than five years in prison. But the defense asked for a sentence of five years of probation.

In court documents, defense lawyers and Sebold's former boss suggested she used the funds for day trading and blackjack games to bolster the foundation's financial future. The defense also denied that Sebold used any of the money for her personal benefit.