A 49-year-old Lathrop woman accused of embezzling upwards of $1 million from a longtime Manteca business while serving as its controller has pled guilty to the charges.
Jana Marie Bolter, who spent 25 years at Brown Sand Inc., was charged in September of two counts of felony grand theft by embezzlement for taking hundreds of thousands of dollars between 2007 and 2017 by fraudulently entering payroll checks and purchasing gift cards that were used for personal expenses.
A forensic accounting firm hired by Brown Sand Inc. – owned by the same family that started the Manteca Waterslides – showed that including the out-of-pocket analysis costs, Bolter cost the company more than $913,000.
The company had taken steps to protect itself in the event something like this ever happened by purchasing business insurance – something that San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar has recommended to companies in the wake of several large cases of embezzlement when the employee did not have oversight for their financial dealings on behalf of the company.
According Verber Salazar’s office, Bolter used her position in the company to steal $878,770 through fraudulent entries into the payroll system, and then used company finances to purchase an additional $6,310 worth of gift cards from places like Southwest Airlines, Bed Bath and Beyond, Chili’s, Olive Garden, Toys R Us, Panera Bread, Starbucks and Regal Cinemas.
The fraud was discovered when Bolter took time off of work to view the recent solar eclipse and an employee noticed duplicate pay transactions, triggering an investigation.
In the initial release to the public, Verber Salazar asked the business community to ensure that strong accounting controls – including appropriate checks and balances on payroll, accounts payable, bank accounts and company credit cards – are in place, and suggested that companies rotate bookkeeping duties among employees so that no one employee keeps sole control of accounting functions over an extended period of time. Unscheduled rotation of job duties, the release stated, “may help break up and expose wrongdoing.”
Bolter has been in custody at the San Joaquin County Jail on $1 million bail and a separate bail condition – valued at $1 – that she prove none of the money that will be used to post her bail be obtained illicitly. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 24.
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