(Updated from the story The Business Journal first reported Friday)
STOCKTON – Police Sunday arrested the bookkeeper suspected of heading an embezzling scheme that bilked a Stockton staffing company out of nearly $400,000.
Becky Vochatzer, 33, was taken into custody Sunday.
Police arrested three other people Friday who are also suspected in the alleged ring.
Liliana Trejo, 42; Sandra Lee Melton, 63; and Raymond Price, 43, were arrested Friday afternoon, according to San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Stephen Taylor. All four are suspected in an embezzling ring that stole money from Premier Staffing in Stockton.
According to court papers provided to The Business Journal, Vochatzer worked as the payroll supervisor for the company and wrote checks using the business’s signature stamp that she, Trejo, and relatives, Melton and Price, then cashed.
At the end of June 2012 the scheme was discovered by another employee who noticed a check had been written but not entered into the company’s accounting records, investigators said. That employee reported the discrepancy to the company’s owner, Jennifer Wallace. Wallace then hired an accountant to audit the books and discovered many checks had been written but not accounted for. Wallace fired Vochatzer and Trejo (who also worked at Premier Staffing) at the end of July.
At the end of August Wallace reported the missing money to Stockton police and brought in forensic accountant Steven Hoslett. Hoslett determined the total amount lost was $377,525, according to court documents.
Police interviewed Vochatzer on Jan. 28. She told police she began the check writing scheme after she had become hooked on Vicodin sometime in 2010. She said the check writing began small but escalated.
According to court documents, Vochatzer told police that Trejo, who was an accounting clerk at Premier Staffing, found out about the checks and suggested they make the checks out to current and former employees, Trejo would cash them at local markets and they would split the money. Vochatzer told investigators she reached a similar deal with her mother, Sandra Melton.
Vochatzer also told police she wrote checks to her brother, Raymond Price, for work he performed for the company. However, Wallace told police Price had never been hired.
The four face charges of conspiracy to commit theft; felony grand theft; and felony falsification of books of a corporation. They also face three enhancements of aggravated white collar crime. If convicted, it’s likely the defendants would be sentenced to no more than seven years in prison, Taylor said. The court has set bail for each defendant be set at $510,000.
Vochatzer, Trejo, Melton and Price are scheduled to be arraigned Monday at 1:30 p.m. in San Joaquin County Superior Court.
Vochatzer, Trejo, Melton and Price appeared in court Monday afternoon. Their arraignement was continuedd to March 15 and bond remains at $510,000 for each defendant.