Buckeye accountant pleads guilty in fraud case

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX (AP) -- An accountant accused of stealing about $145,000 from a veterinarian clinic in Buckeye and a Goodyear church has pleaded guilty.

Maricopa County prosecutors say 39-year-old Michelle Hice pleaded guilty Thursday to fraudulent schemes and artifices and misconduct involving weapons.

She's scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 3.

Hice was arrested in February and was on probation for similar offenses in 2006.

Authorities say the Buckeye woman was running the clinic's daily accounting, payroll, and bills for the past year through a third party accounting firm. 

Last October, the clinic was contacted by the IRS for non-payment of taxes and discovered Hice had written more than $130,000 in unauthorized checks to herself.

Hice also did the church's accounting and authorities determined she wrote about $15,000 in unauthorized checks to herself.