Bellingham bookkeeper allegedly embezzles nearly $200,000 from client

The president of a Bellingham bookkeeping and accounting firm allegedly embezzled nearly $200,000 out of a client’s accounts and transferred it into her own in 35 transactions over a two-month time frame.

Bellingham police booked Sara Ann Greenleaf, 45, Monday, Nov. 4, on suspicion of eight counts of first-degree theft and 27 counts of second-degree theft. Jail records show Greenleaf was released later Monday on personal recognizance.

Greenleaf is listed as the president of Greenleaf Bookkeeping and Accounting Services, according to the business’ website, which said she provides her expertise to a number of local non-profits.

The victim was an individual who hired Greenleaf to handle their bookkeeping a few years ago, Whatcom County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Evan Jones told The Bellingham Herald.

The victim said Greenleaf had asked to borrow money, which the victim refused, Jones said. But when the victim went into their bank, they discovered more than $100,000 had been withdrawn without their permission.

Investigation of bank records by police found that transfers were made from the account to Greenleaf’s between June 5 and Aug. 3 — a time frame Greenleaf had access to the victim’s accounts, Lt. Claudia Murphy told The Herald.

A total of $197,100 was transferred out of the victim’s accounts and into Greenleaf’s, Murphy said, including eight transactions that were for more than $5,000.

Greenleaf turned herself in on Monday, Murphy said.

Jones said charges were filed Tuesday and Greenleaf is scheduled to be arraigned Nov. 15.

David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.
Reporter Denver Pratt joined The Bellingham Herald in 2017 and covers courts and criminal and social justice. She has worked in Montana, Florida and Virginia.