Bayport woman charged with stealing more than $100,000 from Stillwater insurance agency

A Bayport woman allegedly stole more than $100,000 from her employer while working for a Stillwater insurance agency.

Carol Greethurst, 51, faces one count of felony theft by swindle of more than $35,000. If convicted, she could face up to 20 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Prosecutors allege that Greethurst used her position as accountant at Farmers Insurance on Curve Crest Boulevard in Stillwater to embezzle $136,482.63 from her employer between January 2010 and July 2013.

Kathy Schoenborn-Atkins of Farmers Insurance said she discovered the alleged theft while Greethurst was on vacation around July 4 last year.

“I needed to access our account for something while she was gone, and that’s when I noticed her large paycheck cashed through my account,” Schoenborn-Atkins said.

Schoenborn-Atkins said she reported her suspicions to police but it took eight months to determine the extent of the alleged theft.

According to the criminal complaint, Stillwater police hired a certified national examiner to investigate the claims. Through forensic analysis, the investigator concluded Greethurst had swindled the company by:

• Adding a total of $48,217.24 unauthorized payments to her checks.

• Using false reimbursements through payroll withholding in the amount of $34,316.52.

• Paying $40,601.94 in personal expenses from the company’s bank account.

• Obtaining $7,308.26 from a company line of credit

• Using company funds to pay for $638.70 in personal auto insurance costs.

Schoenborn-Atkins said the thefts appeared to have occurred in small increments over time but believed about a third of the total was taken in the six months prior to the investigation.

“Looking back, there’s all kinds of things I could have done to prevent it,” Schoenborn-Atkins said.

But she hadn’t felt the need, she said, noting that Greethurst had worked for the family-owned business more than 10 years before Schoenborn-Atkins took the helm from her father.

Upon discovery of the alleged thefts, Greethurst was dismissed from the company, and Schoenborn-Atkins said and the agency is now doing well.

“It was definitely affecting us at the time,” she said. “We were able to recover pretty quickly because we’re not paying out all that money.”

Some of the reported losses were covered by an “employee dishonesty” policy the business had.

This is not the only case of alleged employee dishonesty to affect an area business recently, according to Washington County Attorney Pete Orput.

“We’ve had a number of these lately,” he said. “Businesses being exploited by their accountants or bookkeepers or family members. … Typically these types of theft go on for some time before someone gets suspicious.”

Greethurst declined to comment. Her first court appearance is scheduled for 9 a.m. May 1.

Contact Jonathan Young at jonathan.young@ecm-inc.com

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