Bookkeeper charged with grand theft
Cape Coral police have charged a former bookkeeper with Gulfstream Development/Douglas Realty with grand theft after an investigation revelealed the woman stole $289,782.97 from the company over a two-year period that began June 21, 2007, officials said Tuesday.
Natalie Anne Walden, 31, of 1235 Osceola Drive, Fort Myers, was charged with a grand theft over $100,000, a first degree felony.
The initial investigation began on March 3 when Cape Police were contacted by the owner of Gulfstream Development at 4821 Coronado Parkway in reference to a fraud report. The owner had found a questionable transaction and wanted an officer present when he confronted the employee who had made the transaction. The owner asked Walden about a transaction where money was transferred from the company account into her personal account, officials said in a prepared statement. He told her to take the rest of the day off and gather paperwork to explain the issue with the missing money. She was to return the next day; however, she did not come back to work. Subsequent attempts to contact her were unsuccessful.
Over the next few weeks, several additional suspicious transactions were discovered by the employees with Gulfstream and Douglas Realty. A subpoena was issued to TIB/Riverside Bank requesting documents related to an account in Walden’s name. The first direct deposit into the account occurred on Aug. 8, 2007 in the amount of $30,000, and 15 additional direct deposits were made until May 19, 2008, officials said. The total of the direct deposits into Walden’s account was $138,500. Walden also reportedly deposited three unauthorized checks totaling $5,375 into the account.
A subpoena also was issued to Suncoast Credit Union requesting documents related to another account in Walden’s name. Walden had set up direct deposits to this account beginning April 25, 2008, and 32 deposits totaling $120,927.23 were made to the account, according to officials. The last deposit occurred on March 3, 2009. Walden also reportedly deposited unauthorized checks totaling $10,275 into this account.
A third subpoena was issued to Wachovia Bank requesting documents related to another account in Walden’s name. Walden had made five direct deposits to this account $4,705.74, officials said, adding Walden also cashed six checks totaling $10,000 at the Fifth Third Bank. The last check was cashed on March 3, 2009.
The investigation by Cape Coral Detective Tracy Hataway found that Walden had complete access to the accounts of Gulfstream Development/Douglas Realty, and she used her knowledge and access to steal money from the company. According to police, Walden stole $289,732.97 from her employer and deposited the funds into her personal accounts.
A warrant was issued for Walden’s arrest, and she was taken into custody by Lee County Sheriff’s on Nov. 1. She was released Nov. 2 pending trial.
Source: Cape Coral Police Department