Former manager of Washington City business arrested for allegedly stealing more than $100k – St George News

ST GEORGE —A 44-year-old St. George woman was arrested Monday on charges of defrauding a Washington City business of more than $100,000 over several years as a former employee of the company, investigators said.

2019 File photo for illustration purposes of Washington City police officers responding to Red Hills Drive, Washington City, Utah, Feb. 21, 2019 | File photo courtesy of the Washington City Police Department, St. George News

The arrest stems from a month-long investigation by Washington City detectives who originally responded on November 14, 2022, to a local business accused of defrauding a company employee. The suspect was identified as Michelle Rudd, according to an indictment filed in Fifth District Court.

Washington City Police Sgt. Tyson Dove told the St. George News that Rudd worked as a manager for a company specializing in event planning and supplies in Washington, D.C., and that Rudd had recently been fired.

The alleged fraud came to light during a review of the company’s credit card statements when the owner noticed two separate cash advances totaling more than $3,200. His suspicions were raised when he discovered that both transactions were completed after normal business hours and were charged to the company’s American Express account.

Irregularities discovered in November prompted the company to take a closer look at past employee charges and advances, and an examination of statements going back several years showed that the two transactions in November were not isolated incidents.

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Instead, records reveal Rudd allegedly stole from the company over a three-year period by making numerous unauthorized purchases and cash advances paid for by the business.

Investigators said an internal audit of credit card accounts revealed that since 2019, Rudd allegedly charged more than $115,000 in unauthorized purchases and cash advances “that appear to be personal in nature.”

Detectives also discovered that over a two-year period, the suspect charged more than $28,400 in 11 different transactions at three Mesquite hotels, including the Casablanca, Eureka and Virgin River hotels.

The suspect allegedly charged more than $1,000 to a business credit card to pay for personal items ordered through Amazon.

Investigators also learned that one of Rudd’s assigned responsibilities as manager was to make deposits into business accounts that primarily consisted of checks in payment for services rendered to the company.

2020 stock image of the sewage treatment facility in Hurricane, Utah, October 21, 2020 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The company told police that 11 total of more than $74,400 were stolen over a two-year period, the report states.

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Bank records revealed Rudd deposited the checks into a business account, but then she immediately cashed the check in its entirety, which the company told police she was not authorized to do.

Investigators also obtained the suspect’s bank records, which include canceled checks and other financial statements covering a three-year period beginning in 2020. Records revealed the dates of the deposits and the amount stolen from the business when the checks were allegedly deposited. Cash out by the suspect, officials note.

During an interview with detectives at the Washington City Police Department on Monday, Rudd admitted to allegedly depositing “some checks from the business” and then withdrawing the funds in cash “for personal gain,” detectives noted, and also using the company. Credit card for personal use at various casinos in Mesquite.

After the interview, Rudd was arrested and booked into the Purgatory Correctional Facility and released on a promise to appear a few hours later.

On Tuesday, the Washington County Attorney’s Office formally charged the suspect with second-degree felony theft and one count of unauthorized use of a financial transaction card charge, a misdemeanor. On March 6, the defendant is scheduled to make an initial appearance in court in St. George.

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This report is based on court records, statements from police or other respondents and may not include the full range of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law or otherwise determined based on the facts.

Copyright Saint George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2023, all rights reserved.



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