Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Employee accused of stealing more than $50K

by The Indiana Gazette on June 03, 2011 3:00 AM

BURRELL TOWNSHIP -- A Derry Township woman has been charged with skimming more than $57,000 between May 2008 and Dec. 31 from her former employer.

State police charged Tammy Kopetsky, 39, of Old Route 217, with felony counts of theft and receiving stolen property and a misdemeanor count of access device fraud.

In a complaint filed May 25 at Blairsville district court, investigators accused Kopetsky of altering sales records and pocketing cash paid by customers at Appleridge Stone Company, 1094 Old William Penn Highway, east of Blairsville.

The company manufactures decorative stone products used for fireplaces, accents and other features for homes and other buildings.

According to court papers, Kopetsky admitted to police that she took money because she felt she was being underpaid compared to other employees and was not given credit for her marketing ideas.

Trooper Robert Worcester, the charging officer, reported the Kopetsky was responsible for $57,208.19 in lost sales revenue and charged $350 to the company credit card for purchases of personal items, such as printer ink for her home computer.

Investigators found that in many instances, Kopetsky took customers' orders in the sales office, collected cash payments, sent customers to the warehouse with a receipt to pick up their merchandise, then erased the transactions from the computer and kept the money.

In some cases, police found, Kopetsky enticed customers to pay cash by offering a 15 percent discount.

The investigation also uncovered the deletion of large cash transactions that were replaced with smaller cash purchases using the same invoice number, court papers show.

According to the complaint, company officials first grew suspicious in March 2010 when a customer, who had paid cash, returned to the warehouse to pick up merchandise that originally was out of stock and a warehouse worker couldn't find a record of the order in the computer system.

Kopetsky claimed that the order was lost because of a problem with her computer and began reporting similar problems to the warehouse three to four times a month, which was far more often than other company workers experienced trouble with their computers, Worcester reported in the charging documents.

Company owner Robert Lenhardt told investigators that Appleridge's accounting software includes a feature that records deletions or edits to invoices, and that the feature revealed Kopetsky's trail of more than 130 fraudulent transactions, the court document reveals.

In a police interview in April, Kopetsky explained some of the missing cash deposits as oversights, then admitted and apologized for the thefts when confronted with evidence from the accounting program.

"Kopetsky related she really enjoyed working there," Worcester wrote in the complaint, "but it started to seem like she was always getting the short end of the stick."

Kopetsky claimed that she trained new employees, who then were paid more than her, and that she gave marketing ideas to a superior who proposed them as his own.

Kopetsky surrendered to face the charges at Blairsville district court, where District Judge Jennifer Rega allowed her to remain free on unsecured bond and ordered her to appear July 13 for a preliminary hearing.

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