BELLINGHAM - The longtime payroll manager of a Bellingham auto dealer has been charged with embezzling more than $30,000 from the business and trying to cover it up by stealing thousands more from a 401(k) account.
Diane Maureen Graff, 61, of Mount Vernon, worked as an office manger at Roger Jobs Motors, a Volkswagen dealership at 2200 Iowa St. Like many auto dealers, Roger Jobs gives salespeople an advance, or "draw," on their commissions at the start and the middle of each month, on the assumption they will earn that money through sales.
Graff was fired in August after an audit revealed she was writing "draws" to herself in the form of bogus checks, according to charging documents filed last week in Whatcom County Superior Court.
As an office worker, Graff was paid not paid on commission. But that didn't stop her, according to prosecutors, from taking $32,900 in draws from 2010 to 2012.
The final and most bold withdrawal was made May 25, when Graff allegedly wrote herself a $6,000 check, the largest theft in the series. It was discovered the next month during a Wells Fargo audit to renew the dealership's credit line.
Mr. Jobs, the owner of the dealership, confronted Graff. She told him it was supposed to be a $600 draw on her paycheck, according to the charges. Concerned, Jobs asked an accountant to review the company books.
According to Prosecutor Dave McEachran, they found not only had she done it before - on 10 specific occasions - but she had tried to transfer $20,300 from the company's 401(k) account to cover her tracks after she found out about the audits.
Graff later confessed to detectives that she stole the money, McEachran wrote.
In all, she's charged with a dozen counts of theft and stands accused of taking $72,900. That accounts for unauthorized draws, raises she gave herself, W-2 overstatements and the 401(k) withdrawal.
Graff was hired as the dealership's office manager in 1997.
"It's always a trusted employee," Jobs told a reporter. "The most important thing is that at no time did it affect any customers."
Since the thefts came to light, the dealership now requires two accountants to sign off on checks. Roger Jobs Motors has insurance to cover the loss.
Graff was reached by phone but declined to comment.
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