Crime

Employee ‘in over her head’ reportedly steals more than $73,000

A Spring Mills woman is facing several felony charges related to reports of theft spanning three years.

The investigation began in mid-November, state police at Rockview said, when the owner of Dreamstones Granite Supplier, Nebil Orkan, contacted troopers about an employee theft.

Orkan provided troopers with “hundreds of pages of bank statements,” police said, claiming that the office secretary, Kelly Lingle, 34, had been writing checks to herself and “cash,” totaling more than $60,000. Orkan said Lingle had been working at the business for the past five years.

Orkan reported that the business has barely broken even over the past three years, police said, and was questioning if he was charging customers enough. In October, he said he was contacted by the business manager, who told him he knew why the company was not making profit.

The manager advised Orkan that he had been contacted by Northwest Savings Bank, police said, who had just cashed a check from Lingle for $2,075. According to the bank, $2,975 had been written in the dollar box, but only the amount written on the check — $2,075 — could be cashed.

The manager told the bank not to cash any more checks from Lingle, police said.

Orkan said he and the manager began reviewing their bank records, police said, saying the manager determined there were multiple checks that had his signature when he had not given permission for his signature to be used. The forged signature reportedly spanned several years and were all written out to either “cash” or Lingle.

Orkan also claimed that on Nov. 3, Lingle had tried to cash a check for $3,498 at Northwestern Savings but was denied, police said. She went to another bank where it was cashed, he said, but Northwestern was able to stop the transaction without a loss to the company.

Orkan advised police on Nov. 16 that he had terminated Lingle’s employment, police said. Lingle had reportedly apologized and asked if she could pay back the missing funds.

After reviewing the bank statements with Orkan, police reported 34 checks dated January 2014 through October 2016 were confirmed to be stolen and not used for company expenses. The total amount came to $73,773.55.

A trooper made contact with Lingle on Dec. 5 advising her of the active investigation into the missing funds, police said. Lingle allegedly admitted to stealing funds over three years time, saying she “got in over her head and in life” and wanted to provide for her three children.

Lingle reportedly said the theft started with small checks and gradually increased the amount, police said. She also allegedly admitted she never kept track of how much was taken.

Lingle was arraigned Tuesday by District Judge Thomas Jordan, according to court documents, and charged with felony counts of forgery, theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property. Unsecured bail was set at $75,000.

Lingle waived her right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday as well, moving the case toward trial.

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews

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