Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bean Counters Charged in $1.5 Million Check Processing Scam

Posted by CotoBlogzz 10--21-2010

SANTA ANA, CA  - Maria Yarris and Eric Wayne Helgem,  Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and accountant respectively,  have been charged with stealing over $1.5 million from their employer by processing over 800 unauthorized checks to themselves, according to the Orange County District Attorney's (OCDA) office.

Yarrish, 40, Buena Park, is charged with 40 felony counts of computer access and fraud. Co-defendant Eric Wayne Helgemo, 50, Vista, is charged with 38 felony counts of computer access and fraud. Both defendants face sentencing enhancements and allegations for property damage over $1.3 million, causing loss over $100,000, and aggravated white collar crime over $100,000. If convicted, Yarrish faces a maximum sentence of 37 years in state prison and Helgemo faces a maximum sentence of 35 years in state prison. The defendants are being held on $1.5 million bail and are required to prove that bail money is from a legal and legitimate source.

In August 2000, Yarrish is accused of being hired as a human resources representative for Pacific Polymers, Inc., a chemical sealant company. In January 2002, Helgemo is accused of being hired by the same company as the Vice President and CFO. Helgemo directly supervised Yarrish.

Yarrish is accused of having the responsibility of processing employee timesheets using a computer payroll and paycheck system. Helgemo, who prepared financial reports for the company owner, is accused of having the responsibility of reviewing the weekly payroll and paycheck reports upon completion by Yarrish.

Between 2003 and 2008, Yarrish and Helgemo are accused of stealing over $1.5 million from Pacific Polymers by processing between one and 11 fraudulent paychecks per pay period for the two defendants. Helgemo is accused of taking 593 fraudulent payments amounting to over $1.1 million. Yarrish is accused of taking 229 fraudulent payments amounting to over $340,000. The fraud went undetected for several years, as Helgemo was entrusted to monitor Yarrish's work.

In June 2008, Pacific Polymers was sold to Illinois Tool Works, Inc. (ITW) and the defendants' jobs were subsequently eliminated. The theft was discovered after the purchase by ITW during an audit of Pacific Polymer's finances. The case was investigated by the Garden Grove Police Department.

Deputy District Attorney Marc Labreche of the Major Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case.

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