Alleged Starbucks embezzler couldn’t stop, lawyer says

Associated Press

BELLEVUE – Another lawsuit has been filed against a couple accused of embezzling $2.7 million from Starbucks Coffee Co.

The case was filed recently in King County Superior Court by Wells Fargo &Co. against Rosemary and Jerry Heinen, who are accused of writing more than $196,500 in bad checks on accounts at the San Francisco-based bank.

Bank officials say the couple had four accounts, including one for Jerry J. Heinen Inc., a Bellevue accounting firm which Wells Fargo claims was doing business as RAD Consulting Services Inc.

Rosemary Heinen worked in Starbucks’ information-technology department from November 1999 until September, when she and her husband were arrested for investigation of theft.

In the earlier suit, Starbucks lawyers claim she approved more than 100 payments to RAD, which they have described as a fictitious company, and used the money to buy 28 vehicles, a boat, several satellite dishes and other goods that have been seized in a police raid.

No criminal charges have been filed against the Heinens.

Erik L. Bauer, Jerry Heinen’s lawyer, said the RAD account at Wells Fargo belonged to Rosemary Heinen and not her husband.

“He could not sign off any of those RAD accounts at all,” Bauer said. “It’s her account and she’s the only one who could sign off on it.”

Stephan R. Illa, Rosemary Heinen’s lawyer, said the couple lacks the money to cover the overdrafts cited in the Wells Fargo case.

On Monday, Illa gave some reporters a tour of the couple’s tan, two-story home in this Seattle suburb to support his description of her as a compulsive shopper. The home was packed with merchandise, much of it unopened, and so cluttered it was almost impossible to enter some rooms.

Hundreds of boxes of jewelry, three Steinway pianos, 28 vehicles, a boat and several satellite dishes were among the items Heinen bought.

“This is someone who is getting a rush out of buying something, and then it’s not opened,” Illa said. “How do you explain buying something and then letting it pile up until you choke on it?”

David Taylor, a lawyer for Starbucks, said being obsessive-compulsive is no excuse.

“She took the money, so she owes it to Starbucks,” he said.

Bauer, said his client didn’t try to stop his wife’s purchases because he did not want to break up his family. Besides, she told him that she had started a profitable headhunting firm, Bauer said.

Court records show that in 1997, the couple filed for bankruptcy protection and were sued by Bank of America, which said they owed nearly $24,000 on a line of credit. The status of those cases was not known.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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