The former bookkeeper of a San Mateo, California-based bakery recently pleaded no contest to charges of embezzlement after an externally conducted recovery audit revealed she had misappropriated nearly $400,000 in company funds over a period of three years, the San Mateo Daily Journal reports.
Gabriela Figueroa Verdusco was hired by Pastry Smart in 2008 and entrusted with the business' finances to the point where she was given authorization to sign company checks, according to the San Mateo Patch.
Indications of embezzlement first came to light in April of last year, when Pastry Smart's president identified a number of questionable transactions in the company's financial records. An outside accountant was subsequently brought in, at which point the extent of Verdusco's misappropriation was revealed. The AP audit found that Verdusco had been covering her tracks by making false entries in accounting records that appeared to show payments to vendors, when she was actually writing checks to herself instead.
Small enterprises are particularly at risk of embezzlement due to the fact that many give a single bookkeeper or office manager virtually total control of their books. An insufficient or wholly absent system of checks and balances facilitates misappropriation.