Woman accused of embezzling $25K

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A former accounting manager for a Grand Junction realty company has been arrested on charges she embezzled tens of thousands of dollars and used the money to pay utility and credit card bills.

Kathryn Anne Baker, 22, 3137 1/2 Shamrock Drive, was arrested on a warrant at her home Wednesday night. She made her first appearance in court Thursday and was advised she could be charged with theft of more than $20,000 and possession of a financial transaction device.

The new accounting manager for Century 21 Cole & Company Realty reported to Grand Junction police last November that she immediately started noticing discrepancies after she took over for Baker, who worked for Cole & Company from February 2007 to August 2008.

The new manager said she found multiple credit card and checking account transactions completed without authorization from Cole & Company owner Dale Cole, according to an arrest affidavit.

Cole & Company conducted an audit and learned the unauthorized transactions were completed using three company credit cards and three company checking accounts, the affidavit said.

Detectives found Baker used the accounts to pay Grand Valley Power, Xcel Energy, Bresnan
Communications and Discover credit card bills and that she wrote checks to herself and cashed other checks.

An additional audit of payroll checks written to Baker found she gave herself unauthorized pay raises, overtime and a bonus. The overpayments totaled more than $1,200, the affidavit said.

Dale Cole told police he confronted Baker about $1,500 in credit card payments she made using a company checking account. She reportedly told him the payments were on her mother’s credit card account and that she had intended to use her own account information to make the payments but had accidentally used the company account, according to the affidavit.

“Cole confirmed Baker never brought this ‘accident’ to his attention at the time they occurred and never repaid the money,” a detective wrote in the affidavit.

Cole told police Baker’s father offered to pay $25,000 in restitution, but he didn’t accept any money due to the extent of the loss, the affidavit said.

Police estimated the total loss to Cole & Company in fraudulent transactions at more than $27,000.

A phone listing for Baker, who is free from the Mesa County Jail on $10,000 bond, couldn’t be found.


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