Michigan employee pleads guilty to embezzling more than $855K

A former state employee pleaded guilty Tuesday in a Michigan court to embezzling over $855,000 from the state.

READ MORE: How a state bonding specialist allegedly stole $855K

Joseph Pettit, who worked for the state Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, was responsible for returning performance bonds to companies that drill or operate gas and oil wells, when ownership changes hands. Instead of giving bonds back to the original owners, Pettit made up vendors and diverted the bonds to bank accounts he made up for the vendors.

Pettit pleaded guilty to two felonies of embezzlement of over $100,000, which are punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine. He also pleaded guilty to a felony involving the forgery and then passage of documents, which is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

He is expected to serve prison time and pay the $855,690 he embezzled as part of the plea, according to a news release from the Michigan Attorney General’s office.

"This plea brings us one step closer to securing accountability in this case, and therefore, justice for the people of Michigan," Attorney General Dana Nessel said in the news release.

Pettit is scheduled for sentencing on Nov. 17.