More arrests in Albany home care provider thefts - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

More arrests in Albany home care provider thefts

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –

Another arrest Tuesday in that payroll theft ring at an Albany business.   Seven people are now charged with ripping off a home health care provider.

The owner of Junior's Loving Care Services says his payroll manager and office coordinator set up a scheme to steal at least $15,000 from his business over a five year period.

 Prosecutors say they're seeing an increase in the number of employee thefts, and that hurts the entire community.

At least seven people are charged in a payroll scheme..in which bogus employees were put into the system, checks written, cashed, and the money split.

All seven have been released on bond.

The business owner says he was stunned to learn that his most tenured employee was the ring leader.

Richard Henderson and his wife Monica work on changes underway at JR's Loving Care Services. Henderson said he feels betrayed after the arrest of 29 year old Chandra Thomas and 25 year old Hjuana Florence, his officer managers and first employees.

Henderson said "I guess to make a long story short, we trusted them too much."

Police say Thomas and Florence added at least five more employees to the payroll at JR's, and gave them paychecks. These five women have been arrested. Police say they would take the checks, and split the cash with Thomas, who handled payroll. Tuesday Henderson calls her the ringleader.

Henderson said "It's $15 thousand now, and it may be more. How much more, we can't be sure, but it could be a lot more."

District Attorney Greg Edwards says his office is seeing more of these cases, and he will prosecute them to the fullest.

Edwards said "We must protect our businesses. The economy being what it is does not give you the license to steal."

Edwards says usually it is the trusted employee that gets greedy and steals from the business, and that owners need to put in checks and balances with outside accountants to protect their livelihood. Henderson says he is putting in those safeguards now.

Henderson said "It can happen to anyone. With any type of business. You just have to make sure you have your checks and balance system up and going."

Henderson said it was an expensive lesson to learn, and today he feels betrayed. But he says it will make his business stronger and better protected in the future.

Henderson said he discovered the thefts when payroll numbers did not add up. When he confronted Thomas and Florence, he said they confessed. He said the theft amounts started small, and the longer they got away with it, the more money they stole. Now he says he will have a hard time completely trusting any employee again.

So far Thomas and Florence are charged with ten counts of computer forgery and computer theft, but Police say additional charges and arrests could be made. They could receive up to ten years in prison for each charge.

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