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Grover Gundrilling sues over embezzlement of $742K
NORWAY — Grover Gundrilling has filed a civil lawsuit against a former longtime bookkeeper over the alleged embezzlement of nearly $742,000, according to New Hampshire Attorney Dennis Morgan of the law firm Cooper Cargill Chant.
Court documents, submitted by Morgan, state that Janis F. Woods, of Conway, NH, along with her husband and two others, stole about $742,000 between February 2009 and February 2012.
"She had been an employee for many, many years at Grover – she paid the bills and paid vendors and things of that nature," said Morgan on Monday.
"The allegation is that she utilized a signature stamp to pay herself and had a scheme that would allow this to occur over a period of a few years."
The suit was filed in Carroll County Superior Court by Grover Gundrilling, a specialty machining company, of Norway.
In the course of reviewing financial records, Chris Hester, company president, discovered a discrepancy between the TD Bank statement and the records maintained by Woods and confronted her about them in January.
Woods worked for Grover Gundrilling as the staff bookkeeper since July 26, 1991.
According to Morgan, her duties included maintaining financial records, preparing payroll checks each week, depositing checks into the company bank account and preparing checks for payment of the suppliers.
One of her job duties was to reconcile Grover's financial records with the bank statements. In this case, according to Morgan, the bank statement showed "significantly less" cash than Grover's records maintained by Woods.
"Chris asked Janis to explain the difference and she was unable to do so," Morgan wrote in his complaint. "Janis stated that she was not feeling well and would take some of the documents home with her and work on the problem that evening."
During further review of records on February 1 it was discovered that Woods embezzled nearly $742,000 through 168 fraudulent checks forged to Woods with a "Garth Grover" signature stamp, said Morgan.
According to the court document, she then negotiated the checks by endorsing them with her own signature or with a stamp that indicated "For Deposit Only" and deposited them in various banks in the Conway, NH area without knowledge or permission of Grover.
According to Morgan, Grover, chief operating officer, never signed, nor authorized anyone else to use his stamp to sign the checks. The court document states that the stamp had been locked away in a file cabinet in Woods' office which she apparently had access to.
It also notes that Woods does not have signature authority on the company's bank account.
A review of Woods' bank account shows that after obtaining the money, she then transferred it to her husband, Donald Woods and two others – their son, Christopher Fleming and his girlfriend, Jennifer Wolhert, to use for personal benefit, according to Morgan.
The total identified to date is $741,414.66, he said.
He wrote that Woods' bank account showed that her husband spent in excess $5,000 per month on various credits cards and household bills.
According to Morgan money was also transferred to Fleming directly and through his business Fire 21 Pizza which Woods had also done bookkeeping for.
"She was keeping the business afloat with some of this money," said Morgan. "We can account for a portion that went from Grover to this pizza shop, but it comes short of explaining a lot of things."
Morgan said it appears that most of the stolen money has already been spent.
"The information that we've been able to uncover to date does not show that there are really any assets," he said.
"You would think that somebody that had taken this amount of money would have something to show for it, but we are not seeing that."
According to Morgan, the review of Grover's financial records is ongoing.
He confirmed that Woods has not returned to work since the discrepancy was found and was fired from the company soon after.
Hester said that he would rather not comment on the case.
"I don't want to do anything that would prevent the legal process from carrying on," said Hester.
"This is something that happened to our company several months ago, and doesn't have an ongoing impact on our business, so it's more of a legal case at this point."
Morgan said a structuring conference has been scheduled for October 10 to allow the court to lay out the case and look at different trial dates.