Bookkeeper Accused of Stealing $400K

A 65-year-old New Mexico woman is accused of stealing nearly $400,000 from her employer, including forging more than 200 checks and paying $30,000 in mortgage payments via electronic transfers from her employer's account.

Albuquerque police said Linda Herrera began the illegal activity in May 2009, five months into her job as bookkeeper for the McCall Organization, a group of several companies owned by the McCall family that includes a Moriarty hotel, an RV park, a realty firm and other businesses.

Between May 2009 and her termination in November 2012, Herrera allegedly used various means to drain the company's coffers for personal gain. According to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court:

Herrera made 37 electronic payments, totaling nearly $30,000, toward the mortgage on her Northwest Albuquerque home.

She made out 19 unauthorized payroll checks to herself, totaling more than $27,000, by cutting an extra check in 19 pay periods.

She forged at least 204 checks from the account of one of the organization's hotels, totaling nearly $330,000.

Apart from paying for her mortgage, it's unclear what Herrera did with the money she allegedly stole. However, the complaint said many of Herrera's cash ATM withdrawals happened at a local casino.

Herrera was being held Tuesday at the Metropolitan Detention Center on $50,000 bail. Online court records state that she's facing more than 200 counts of forgery, in addition to embezzlement and fraud charges.

Herrera allegedly admitted to the embezzlement and promised to repay the business, according to the complaint in a letter written in November 2012 after the company conducted an audit of its finances that revealed Herrera's activities. Herrera also signed over the deed for her home to the McCall Organization.

Howard McCall, who is listed as the president of several of the McCall Organization companies, told police that the financial shortfall forced him to take money from his personal retirement account, and said he was concerned his family's businesses were going under during the time Herrera was employed at the business.

Also, he said employees did not receive pay raises and new employees were hired at lower pay scales to keep the business above water, according to the complaint.

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Copyright 2014 - Albuquerque Journal, N.M.

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