From groceries to football tickets to vacation costs, there were few personal expenses that weren’t charged to a business credit card issued to a Cobleskill real estate company.
In some months, there were as much as $15,000 worth of charges to the account. That was until a bank finally tracked down the owner of the business in March about the debt his account had accrued from roughly seven years of free spending.
“Then he realized how deep in the hole he was,” said Sgt. Rich Bialkowski of the Cobleskill Police Department.
And he realized he hadn’t made any of the estimated $389,000 in charges to the account. Instead, police say, a bookkeeper at the business had taken out a business credit card in her name and was using it for her own expenses.
On Wednesday, Kelly A. Garreau, 47, of Richmondville, was charged with second-degree grand larceny in the case. She was arraigned in Schoharie County Court and released after posting $10,000 bond.
Investigators would not identify the business allegedly victimized by Garreau, or name its owner. But various industry databases indicate Garreau worked for Country Boy Realty in Cobleskill.
Calls to its office were not returned Wednesday.
Bialkowski said Garreau maintained accounts for both the business and her employer’s personal expenses, which allowed her to cover up the money she was bilking through credit card expenses. He said she was able to conceal her fraud by falsifying her employer’s records and intercepting correspondence from the bank or other debtors.
“She was the only person in charge of all the books, so there were no checks or balances,” he said. “They pretty much trusted her to do everything for them.”
Bialkowski said Garreau would also transfer money from her employer’s personal account to pay debts she incurred with the business credit card. He estimated the fraud started sometime in 2006 and continued until the business owner was notified five months ago.
“She basically began a course of conduct of buying anything and everything with the credit card [in 2006],” he said. “Thousands of dollars each month.”
Records from multiple business and personal financial accounts were subpoenaed during the investigation. The state police Financial Crimes Unit assisted Cobleskill police with a financial audit of the records.
Garreau was indicted by a grand jury. She is scheduled to return to court Nov. 27.
Garreau is no stranger to bookkeeping fraud. In 1998, she served time in the Schoharie County jail after admitting to bilking tens of thousands of dollars from an area nursing home.
At the time, Garreau was the bookkeeper for Eden Park Nursing Home. She began forging checks from patient accounts and depositing them in personal accounts established at other banks.
An internal investigation into the nursing home’s accounts uncovered the discrepancy. Garreau later admitted to second-degree forgery and third-degree grand larceny, admitting she stole $24,000 from various accounts.
She was ordered to serve six months in jail and five years’ probation in that case.