By Audrey Sawyer
MODESTO, CA – During a morning court session in Stanislaus County Superior Court Monday, a preliminary hearing was held regarding for a man facing felony embezzlement charges (The Vanguard has chosen not to use the accused’s name).
The business owner testified the accused had worked with the company from the dates of June 15 to the alleged time of taking the money in August, and the alleged unlawful withdrawal of money occurred when the owner was on vacation—he said he returned a day early after noticing his account in the negative.
A quantity of $5,000 was withdrawn from the account with a blank check, and the accused, as manager, was authorized to withdraw from the account in the absence of the owner, but only to buy products for the store. The owner argued there would have been no reason to reorder products in his absence because he made sure that there was enough prior to his leaving.
The owner then testified the accused confessed by sending him a text message stating: “I took the money because I felt entitled to it.”
Defense Attorney Ryan A. Roth asked about the legitimacy of the signage of the check. The owner said it is “all messed up.” After reviewing the submitted check again, it was pointed out that there is a misspelling on the last name of the accused.
Roth argued, “It is clear that (the accused) is an authorized user of the account. If there is a dispute about what money is intended to be spent between authorized users or not, it does not mean that money is stolen. The name on the check is not his actual name, as the ‘s’ is missing. No written agreement between the two.”
Deputy District Attorney Sara Sousa argued, “There is sufficient evidence to hold him guilty of embezzlement. While (the owner) was on vacation camping, a $5,000 check was withdrawn on his account.”
Judge Dawna Reeves ruled, “Given the text attributed to (the accused) that he felt entitled to the money, and regarding the withdrawal, it is sufficient for a preliminary hearing. It does appear to the court that the offense in Charge 1 has been committed: guilty of embezzlement.”