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Solar eclipse helps unmask possible $858K embezzlement

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POSTED September 28, 2017 1:08 a.m.

STOCKTON — Last month’s partial solar eclipse apparently tripped up a Manteca woman accused of embezzling $885,081 from her employer.
Jana Marie Bolter surrendered to San Joaquin County Superior Court following an arrest warrant issued last Friday on charges of two counts of felony grand by embezzlement.
The District Attorney’s Office reported Wednesday that Bolter, 49, of Manteca, formerly known as Jana Marie Lemerond, is a former employee of Brown Sand Inc. of Lathrop.
She’s accused in Count 1 of stealing in the excess of $878,770 through fraudulent entries in the company’s payroll system, from 2010 through 2017.
Bolter is also accused in Count 2 of using her position with the company, from 2009 through 2017, to charge gift cards to the company’s charge account at Staples Office Supply Co., taking an additional $6,310 of gift cards for such merchants as Southwest Airlines, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Chili’s, Toys R Us, Applebee’s, Panera Bread, Amazon, Olive Garden, Starbuck’s, and Regal Cinemas, all for personal unauthorized use.
In all, Bolter is accused of using her position with the company to take over $885,081 for herself beyond her own salary and benefits. She’s been with the firm for over 25 years, rising to her position as Controller.
Brown Sand Inc. reportedly discovered the embezzlement when Bolter took off work briefly to view last month’s solar eclipse.  In her absence another employee reportedly took notice of duplicate pay transactions in the payroll, triggering an investigation.
The charges in this case are accusations, the DA’s Office said.
Bolter, who is represented by attorney Gil Somera of Stockton, is presumed not guilty of these accusations unless and until the contrary is proved in court.
She was taken into custody pending further proceedings with her bail set at $1 million.
Her court date is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 2, at 8:30 a.m. in Department 8-B of Superior Court.
District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar has asked the business community to maintain strong accounting controls which include appropriate checks and balances on payroll, accounts payable, bank accounts and company credit cards.
She noted that it’s good accounting practice to rotate bookkeeping duties among employees so no one employee keeps sole control of accounting functions for extended times.
The DA’s Office continues to see increased numbers of such cases in small and family-owned businesses, in particular, where a single person is allowed to control company accounting functions without audits and accounting controls.
Periodic unscheduled rotation of job duties may help break up and expose wrongdoing.
Brown Sand Inc., fortunately, had insurance to cover the losses.
This case was brought by the San Joaquin Sheriff’s Detective Division along with Forensic Accountant Steven Hoslett of Stockton.

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