Charges filed against woman accused of bilking $125K

EVERETT — A Burlington woman accused of bilking her former employer out of more than $125,000 is now charged with multiple counts of identity theft.

Deborah Shepard, 52, was arrested last year in connection with unauthorized credit card charges, including donations to charities, veterinarian bills, car repairs and payments for her daughter’s band camp. Prosecutors last week filed felony charges, alleging that Shepard embezzled money from the Everett company where she worked as the bookkeeper.

Shepard had been employed at the family business since 2011. She is accused of taking money from PTC, Inc., dating back to 2013, according to court records.

Shepard declined to speak with police. At one point she referred Everett detective Jamie French to her attorney but never provided contact information despite repeated requests.

The business owners told police that Shepard handed over a notarized apology and confession letter in March 2016 after being confronted with the charges. In that letter, she allegedly promised to pay back the money. The owner told police in September that he hadn’t received any payments from Shepard.

Shepard’s alleged misdeeds came to light in March 2016 after the company hired a woman to assist with front office duties. She was tasked with tracking cable equipment rented by companies for their job sites.

She discovered that rented equipment, worth tens of thousands of dollars, hadn’t been returned. When she asked Shepard about the missing equipment, the defendant reportedly told the woman she was mistaken. The woman, however, called several out-of-state job sites and was told the rented equipment was still there. The customers reported that Shepard never called them about picking it up.

The woman told police she saw Shepard delete equipment off inventory tracking sheets. Shepard also directed the woman to shred invoices that the woman knew hadn’t been tracked in company ledgers.

Shepard’s work was scrutinized. That’s when the president discovered charges on the company credit card that were not business related. She confronted Shepard about the charges, asking her why she thought she could use the company’s card for her personal expenses.

“Shepard said she ‘did not know why’ and asked if she was going to jail,” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Teresa Cox wrote in charging papers.

Shepard was fired but agreed to bring in receipts and documentation. Those invoices showed that she’d charged more than $17,900 on the company card.

Shortly after she was fired, the company also discovered that Shepard had been using three additional credit cards belonging to the business, Cox wrote. She also reportedly wrote herself checks, totalling nearly $57,000.

Her letter reportedly didn’t mention any of these charges or bank checks, Cox wrote.

The investigation uncovered thousands more in unauthorized charges. Shepard allegedly made donations to charities around the same time that she made purchases at Best Buy or on Amazon. The company wasn’t aware of the donations, according to court papers. She purchased multiple computers and charged more than $6,500 in repairs for five vehicles on the company card.

Shepard doesn’t have any previous criminal convictions. She’s now charged with seven counts of identity theft.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

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