On August 2010, Heather Wylie of Butte, Montana, admitted to stealing thousands of dollars from her employer, a local attorney and his clients. She pleaded guilty to two felony charges while some of her victims sat silently in the courtroom.
Heather Wylie, 38, was charged with embezzling approximately $60,000 while employed as an administrative assistant and bookkeeper by Attorney Dan Sweeney. She is accused of taking $47,000 in unauthorized payments and reimbursements, checks and deposits while working for Sweeney.
According to official documents, Wylie stole money from lawyer Daniel Sweeney and various people who came into his office from December 2004 to April 2008. Wylie was in charge of assisting new customers and of all bookkeeping duties.
Due to an illness in late 2007, Dan Sweeney was forced to be absent from his office, however; Wylie continued to work for him. Claims state that she required customers to pay cash for services. Sweeney became suspicious after customers began calling him to ask about their cases and he was not able to find any record of them being customers.
Charging documents show that the amount of money being deposited into Sweeney’s business accounts did not match the amount of invoiced income. Several checks with Sweeney’s forged signature were also made available to investigators.
Additional to the $47,000 Wylie embezzled in the form of unauthorized pay, reimbursements and cash, she is also accused of stealing $7,000 in cash from a customer. The money was supposed to be used to make mortgage payments on a property the client had inherited. The payments were never made and as a result, the client lost the property. A final claim states that she stole $500 from a customer paying to retain Sweeney in a bankruptcy case—Wylie never filed the case.
In late October 2008, Heather Wylie was sentenced to 10 years on both felony theft charges to run consecutively. She was also ordered to pay $154, 580 in restitution to her victims.
Heather Wylie was branded a “predator” by her victims, and rightly so. She will most likely never undo the damage caused by her embezzlement and restitution seems almost impossible for those who were financially ruined by her actions.
Unfortunately, Wylie’s victims trusted her and thought of her as a responsible and honest person. They truly believed she was working in their best interest.
If there is anything to be learned from this upsetting case, is not to be naïve. Ignoring the threat represented by embezzlers will not help your business. If most embezzlements and or frauds are carried out by employees entrusted with accounting/bookkeeping responsibilities, why not switch gears and consider the benefits of outsourcing your bookkeeping needs?
This simple change will drastically increase your business’ level of protection against employee fraud/embezzlement. Outsourcing your bookkeeping responsibilities is a safe choice. Cash Flow Accounting offers safe, timely and inexpensive bookkeeping solutions for your business. Let us help you save time and money. Please e-mail us at Info@CashFlowAccounting.com for more information.