Saturday, November 15, 2014

Accountant Embezzled $1.6 Million from Electrical Supply House

Over a period of seven years, an accountant allegedly embezzled $1.6 million from a branch of Electrical Wholesalers in Connecticut. Gail Zolla turned herself in to police after learning of a warrant for her arrest. Investigators allege that the former employee wrote 470 checks to a fake company and deposited the funds into her personal bank accounts. Ms. Zolla was charged with one count of first-degree larceny and 327 counts of second-degree forgery and is being held on $250,000 bond.

A former accountant for a Connecticut-based electrical supply company was charged Wednesday with embezzling $1.6 million over seven years.

Gale Zolla was charged with first-degree larceny and second-degree forgery. Police said the forgery counts relate to checks she wrote to a fictitious company and deposited into her personal accounts.

Police said that on February 15, Zolla went to police precinct and told officers she had embezzled money from her employer, U.S. Electrical Services Inc., which is the parent company of Electrical Wholesalers.

The case was turned over to detectives and inspectors in the state's attorney's office, who began investigating.

Zolla initially told police she'd stolen $800,000 from the company, but as the company audited its accounts it determined the loss was actually $1.66 million.

The former accountant told police she believed her boss was beginning to suspect she was stealing and that prompted her February visit to Bristol police.

Police said their investigation showed that she wrote herself 470 checks during the time she worked at Electrical Wholesalers, and that she wrote the last check on February 15, the same day she went to police to turn herself in.

Police obtained search warrants for her home and bank accounts and said most of the money appears to be gone. Zolla told police she spent about $100,000 on landscaping at her home and the rest of the money on vacations, vehicles and other household expenses.

She also covered some of the expenses of her wedding with the stolen funds, according to the warrant. Bank records "indicate she spent money on vacations, restaurants, furniture and many shopping sprees."

Police also learned that Zolla used about $12,500 in stolen funds to pay down her credit cards just prior to going to police headquarters to confess. She cashed an allegedly forged check for $5,000 the day she went to police and another for $6,264 just after, according to the warrant.

What prompted Zolla to go to police to confess appears to be the efforts of a co-worker at U.S. Electrical Services, Linda Culop, to reconcile several accounts. One account was short about $750,000 for 2012 and 2013. Culop, a senior accountant, asked Zolla about the discrepancy and Zolla said she'd look into it.

Over the next several weeks, Culop continued to ask Zolla about the discrepancies, but did not get an answer. She then went to the company's chief financial officer, Robert Canyock, and another employee to show them the problem.

Culop told police that on February 14 she sat down with Zolla and another employee to investigate the shortfall, according to the warrant. Zolla said she was stepping away to get more detail, and then left work. Zolla went to police the next day.

As U.S. Electrical Services accountants further examined the records, they determined that the company's loss totaled $1.66 million and all of the checks had been cut by Zolla to the fictitious company.

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