The trial of an Ash Flat woman charged with embezzling more than $63,000 from Gill's Backhoe Service has been continued. The new trial date has been set for Oct. 12.
Maria A. Ables, 33, was arrested Jan. 22 and 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. District Court Judge R.T. Starken set her bond at $5,000 which she posted and was released from jail.
The trial was originally scheduled to begin in February but had been continued until July 12 by Circuit Judge Harold Erwin at the request of Ables and her attorney, Gray Dillinger of Melbourne. Another order of continuance was filed July 1 by Erwin, setting the trial for Oct. 12.
Ables worked at Gill's for almost two years as a bookkeeper, said Mack Thompson, special agent for the Arkansas State Police.
According to the affidavit, 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.
Ables would deposit money into Gill's account at First National Bank of Sharp County, one of her responsibilities as bookkeeper, Thompson said. According to bank documents, 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. It is also alleged she pocketed money when customers would pay in cash.
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. She told the owner the money was a loan from Gill, Thompson said.
Ables also used Gill's company credit card to purchase two tickets to a Brad Paisley concert in Jonesboro, Thompson said.
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 Jan. 22.
Ables was arrested again June 2 at her place of employment for allegedly forging $7,300 in checks she had taken from her father-in-law.
She was charged with two counts of second-degree forgery, class C felonies. Starken set her bond at $100,000 but Erwin filed an order for bond reduction June 18. Erwin ordered that the first bond of $5,000 set in the Gill's case be sufficient for both cases. She was then released from custody.
According to the arrest affidavit, Thompson was contacted by an employee of First National Banking Company May 14 about two checks, one for $3,800 and another for $3,500, drawn on the account of Sherman Ables. The employee told Thompson that Maria Ables had either deposited or attempted to deposit the checks into her account at the Bank of Cave City, according to the affidavit.
Sherman Ables was interviewed May 21 by Thompson and said he did not write the two checks and did not authorize anyone to write the checks or sign his name. He told Thompson he thought his daughter-in-law had forged the checks, the affidavit said.
Class B felonies are punishable by up to 20 years in prison for each offense. Class C felonies are punishable by up to 10 years for each offense.