Embezzler's Fine Reduced on Appeal

A longtime controller for a Thousand Oaks actuarial firm sentenced to prison for embezzling more than $111,000 was granted an appeal Wednesday on the restitution portion of his sentence.

Nooshin Zahab, a 43-year-old Reseda man who for five years worked as the controller for Advanced Benefits Systems, must only pay a restitution fine of $10,000, rather than the $20,000 penalty imposed last year by Ventura County Superior Court Judge James M. McNally. The state Court of Appeal ruled that the original restitution penalty exceeded what state law would allow.

The judge "made an error in making the restitution award," said Ventura attorney Robert L. Weiss, who handled the appeal. "But it wasn't deliberate on the part of the judge."

Zahab admitted stealing more than $111,000 from the firm between 1988 and 1990, in part to pay for his addiction to gambling, according to court records.

He was sentenced to three years and four months in state prison last August, and is now serving his term at the correctional facility in Susanville.

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