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Bookkeeper surrenders to police on embezzlement charges

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Staff Writer

An Ash Flat woman has been charged with embezzling more than $63,000 from Gill's Backhoe Service.

Maria A. Ables, 33, turned herself in Jan. 22 and appeared before District Court Judge R.T. Starken, who set her bond at $5,000. She has been released from custody. She was ordered to appear in court on Feb. 17.

Ables is charged with two counts of theft of property, class B felonies; six counts of forgery, class C felonies; and one count of fraudulent use of a credit card, a class A misdemeanor.

Ables worked at the business for almost two years as a bookkeeper, said Mack Thompson, special agent for the Arkansas State Police.

From the affidavit filed Jan. 22, it is alleged that between April 19, 2002, and Dec. 5, 2003, Ables stole a large amount of cash from deposits and forged checks written from the business account. She also used the company credit card for personal purchases.

According to the investigation by Thompson, Ables would deposit money into Gill's account at First National Bank of Sharp County, one of her responsibilities as bookkeeper. According to bank documentation, on almost all the deposit tickets from June 17, 2003, to Dec. 5, 2003, there was a notation of "less cash" ranging from $100 to $1,800, the affidavit said. It is also alleged she pocketed money when customers would pay in cash.

It is alleged from April 19, 2002, to Nov. 5, 2003, Ables took $26,748.86 in cash that was to be deposited. It is also alleged she took $29,200 from the deposits in the form of "less cash" transactions.

Six checks drawn on Gill's Backhoe Service were forged while Ables was employed with the company, the affidavit said. Three of the checks were written to a local furniture store totaling more than $7,000. The owner of the store told authorities Ables bought furniture and had it delivered to her home. She told the owner the money was a loan from Gill, Thompson said.

The total of the checks is $7,831.35.

Ables also allegedly used Gill's company credit card to purchase two tickets to a Brad Paisley concert in Jonesboro, Thompson said. Other employees stated that Ables talked about the concert at the office.

Gill told Thompson he never gave Ables permission to sign his name on checks and never agreed to loan Ables money. He also said he never authorized Ables to use his credit card for personal purchases. He said he never authorized Ables to take cash back from deposits.

Thompson said Ables had two out-of-county warrants from Baxter County and Beebe for violations of the Arkansas hot check law at the time of her arrest.

Class B felonies are punishable up to 20 years in prison for each offense. Class C felonies are punishable up to 10 years for each offense.

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