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ST. GEORGE — A $50 discrepancy in a bank deposit led to an internal audit that uncovered an embezzlement scheme resulting in the estimated loss of nearly $100,000 in deposits for a family health clinic in St. George.
And police say the funds were reportedly taken by one of the company’s veteran managers over several years.
The arrest stems from an investigation that began in November 2022 after authorities received a report of possible embezzlement at a health facility on Riverside Drive in St. George.
According to the probable cause statement filed in support of the arrest, the case was forwarded to the St. George Police Department’s detective division for follow-up.
While talking to the CEO of the company, investigators learned that an employee, Consuelo Heidi Olivas, 38, a six-year veteran and one of the center’s managers, allegedly took $10,000-$30,000 from the company, according to initial estimates.
An internal audit would later reveal that the amount of money claimed was significantly higher.
The alleged theft came to light while Olivas was on a business trip in October 2022, when other employees were tasked with handling bank deposits in her absence. While making one of the deposits, the report states, the clerk noticed $50 was missing, and during an internal investigation, staff suspected Olivas had taken the money just before he left on a business trip.
When she confronted the company, investigators say, the suspect told the supervisor she took the money by accident. At the same time, Olivas, who was still out of town on business, called a colleague to ask for an increase in the amount she was allowed to spend on the company credit card.
Authorities also learned from the supervisor that Olivas “shouldn’t used the company credit card” for personal expenses while she was at work. Coupled with the money reported missing from the bank deposit, the supervisor began to suspect that Olivas was using the company credit card for his own personal needs, in addition to taking money from the company by short-paying the deposits.
Olivas returned to the office and was confronted by a supervisor when the suspect admitted to taking money from the deposits, shortages she explained began after her ex-husband’s death, the report states.
During the meeting, the suspect was advised that she had been placed on administrative leave pending the ongoing internal investigation. Shortly thereafter, the suspect was reportedly seen leaving the office “holding bags,” and minutes later, the supervisor noticed that the door to the safe deposit box, where the deposits were kept, had been left open.
Suspecting that Olivas may have made off with the bank deposits, the supervisor called Olivas and told her to return the money, which the suspect did shortly after when the supervisor encountered Olivas at a nearby bank.
Detectives recovered bank information and deposit records that revealed the suspect altered many of the deposit slips from various departments at the health care company to “hide the money she was taking,” the official noted.
In all, the internal audit conducted by the company revealed the loss of more than $100,000 in deposits that were reported to have been taken by the suspect over several years.
According to the report, internal audit records revealed, for example, that between August and October, nearly $14,000 in deposits never reached the bank.
Detectives also learned that deposit amounts doubled, and in some cases even tripled, after the suspect was placed on administrative leave.
On Friday, the St. George Police Department conducted an interview during which the suspect told police she took $2,500 from the company the day she was placed on administrative leave, adding that she returned the money to the company later that day day.
The suspect also said she took approximately $3,000 from bank deposits several years ago and said she returned the money “without anyone knowing.”
The suspect also told detectives she “took money” from customer payments and claimed she returned the money by adding it to a bank deposit later. She also said she changed the deposit slip to reflect the change in amount.
After the interview, the suspect was transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility and she was booked into jail on two second-degree felony counts of stealing the money allegedly taken and one count of wire fraud for tampering with company financial records .
Employee theft — a $50 billion industry
According to an analysis by JW Surety Bonds, employee theft costs businesses more than $50 billion annually in the United States, and nearly two-thirds of all thefts reported in the healthcare industry are committed by a manager. In addition, theft goes on for about two years before being discovered on average, and approximately one-third of all company bankruptcies are the result of employee theft.
After Friday’s arrest, Olivas was formally charged with second-degree felony theft and forgery, a third-degree felony, while the embezzlement charge was dismissed during the review process so it was never filed. The defendant was released from jail the following afternoon and has not yet been scheduled for an initial appearance in the case.
This report is based on statements from court records, police or other response agencies and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law or otherwise determined by a court of law.
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