Norcross office manager accused of embezzling nearly $39,000

Small discrepancies on time sheets over the course of six years have led Gwinnett County police to charge a 60-year-old Buford woman with theft by deception, a form of embezzlement. The woman, who was an office manager at a Norcross telecommunications company, allegedly added unauthorized hours to her time sheets between 2004 and 2010 — small additions that added up to $38,937, a company representative contends.

Company officials confronted the woman about the alleged embezzlement last year, after a recent audit had brought the small time sheet discrepancies to light. The confrontation apparently convinced the woman to quit her job.

When the company was a satisfying internal resolution to the discrepancies, it seems they decided to take the matter further and contacted the police, who initiated a criminal investigation.

As is often true in cases of alleged white collar crime, whether the defendant is guilty of any criminal behavior appears to be open to interpretation. The alleged embezzlement was apparently not discovered until the time card discrepancies had been taking place for years. An accounting audit may have discovered inconsistencies between the woman’s time cards and other financial records, but that in itself is not proof of any crime.

A jury will have to examine the company’s records and policies and make a determination as to whether the woman intended to defraud the company, or if she merely misunderstood the firm’s time reporting policy. The issue of whether her time cards were approved by a superior could come up, as could questions of whether she was properly classified as an hourly or salaried employee.

Whatever the situation, the facts are bound to be complex, and it is best to wait until all those facts are in before making any judgment.

The former office manager was arrested on Friday on charges of theft by deception, a felony. She was released from the Gwinnett County Jail later that day on bond and was unavailable for comment.

Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Cops: Buford woman bilked company out of $39,000,” Fran Jeffries, June 8, 2011