Christine Abbott, 48, from Rettendon, was caught after she was made redundant from Chelmsford-based Euro-Spec Steel Fabrication and Construction.
Finally a combination of the construction recession and the fraud sent the business under.
Abbott stole £93,000 fiddling the books by making up invoices and pocketing the money herself between 2007 and 2009.
A judge at Chelmsford Crown Court told her he was imposing a 21-month jail sentence to deter others from putting their hand in the till.
The court heard she was under financial pressure because her partner’s business was struggling.
Ex-boss of Euro-Spec, Jim Howard, has bounced back to set up another steelwork company called Convair. He is now planning to hire some of the workers who lost their jobs.
He said:”Because she seemed such a nice person the thought that she was stealing from us never crossed my mind.
“In 2009 we had to start laying people off and in fact she lost her own job because she was stealing from us, because we had to lay her off as well.”