TULALIP — A former cashier at the Tulalip Tribes’ liquor store and smoke shop is accused of embezzling about $400,000.
Angela Jones Ver Hoeven reportedly told investigators in August that she has a “pill problem” and stole up to $800 a day from the shop, according to court documents filed in
U.S. District Court in Seattle. Investigators also uncovered that Ver Hoeven has lost about $37,000 at the tribal-owned Quil Ceda Creek Casino since the fall of 2009.
Ver Hoeven, a tribal member, was arrested Thursday. She is charged with theft from a tribal organization. She is accused of underreporting her sales at the drive-thru window and pocketing the money. Investigators believe the embezzlement began as early as 2008.
Tulalip Tribal police and the FBI have been investigating the case since August. That’s when a store manager contacted Tulalip police to report suspicious transactions.
A customer had called requesting a receipt for the four cartons of cigarettes she’d purchased at the drive-thru window. The customer was buying for a group of people and needed the receipt to get paid back, Tulalip Tribal Police Chief Jay Goss said.
“Of course there was no receipt to be found” that matched the purchase amount the customer described, Goss said.
Instead, a search showed that Ver Hoeven had changed the sales record in the computer to show that only one carton had been sold, according to the court documents. Investigators suspect the defendant pocketed the difference.
That day, the shop’s finance manager gave a friend $250 in cash to purchase six cartons of cigarettes from Ver Hoeven. Later, managers searched the sales records and couldn’t find the transaction. A review of the security camera showed Ver Hoeven making the sale, court papers said.
A Tulalip Tribal police detective interviewed Ver Hoeven a couple of days later. She reportedly told police she’d been manipulating cash transactions at the shop for about nine months.
“I would do this more days than I would not,” she was quoted as saying.
The day of the police interview, Ver Hoeven had $1,900 in her purse and $1,600 at home. That money allegedly was taken from the shop. She said the $410 in her wallet was from her paycheck.
Ver Hoeven reportedly told police that she is good at math, which helped her give the customers accurate change without ringing the sales into the cash register.
“I did try to stop but seems it easier not to,” Ver Hoeven reportedly wrote in a statement.
Tribal police hired a forensic accountant to determine the loss. The FBI also provided an auditor to look at the smoke shop books.
“There were thousands upon thousands of documents,” Goss said. “The investigation took several months.”
The accountants determined that Ver Hoeven’s average cash sale amount was significantly less than her fellow cashiers. The discrepancies added up to nearly $400,000, court papers said.
Police also learned that Ver Hoeven is a VIP member of the winner’s club at the Tulalips’ Quil Ceda Creek Casino.That membership is reserved for people who spend a lot of money at the casino, according to the charging documents.
A review of her casino account indicated that since September 2009 Ver Hoeven put more than $732,000 into the gaming machines, which included money she deposited and money she had won and used to bet again. Her net loss was about $37,000 in 13 months.
Goss said investigators examined the entire smoke shop operation and all the evidence pointed to one suspect.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; email@example.com.