Jennifer Broussard, 38, of Dallas, is accused of bilking her employer, Craftsmen Business Interiors Inc. of Marietta, out of $645,750 since 2006. She served in various capacities including office manager and project manager, according to the arrest warrant.
The embezzlement started on Jan. 20, 2006, and continued through Jan. 18 of this year, according to accusations in the warrant.
Craftsmen Business Interiors, with offices at 531 Roselane Road off Kennesaw Avenue near WellStar Kennestone Hospital, was founded in September 1999 and provides interior build-out services for commercial construction projects throughout metro Atlanta, according to the company’s website. The principals, Michael Humphrey and Scott Myers, have a combined 40 years experience in the industry, according to the website, specializing in turnkey construction of commercial office spaces.
The case is being handled by the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office, which investigates the majority of the county’s white-collar crime cases.
“This young lady was a longstanding, trustworthy employee for over a decade with the company,” said Col. Milton Beck, chief deputy for the Sheriff’s Office. “We’ve had these kind of situations where the person is a trustworthy, go-to employee come up before and it’s just unfortunate.”
Sheriff’s Office investigator P.D. Chesney reported that Broussard pulled off the scam by entering 147 fictitious entries for vehicle expenses into the company’s QuickBooks accounting database. That allowed her to generate 147 checks for reimbursement, with each check made payable to herself under the fictitious name of Jennifer Burchfield. Broussard then deleted the fraudulent expense entry and balanced the company’s accounting records by falsely inflating multiple other expenditures and expenses to hide the theft, according to the warrant.
Broussard’s activity went undetected for seven years. It was only after a visit on April 4, 2013, by agents from the Internal Revenue Service concerning unpaid federal taxes that the company launched its own internal audit and found the financial irregularities.
Broussard is charged with computer forgery and fiduciary theft by taking, both felonies.
Broussard turned herself in at the Cobb County jail and was booked into her cell just after midnight Monday morning, according to jail records. She was not yet represented by an attorney as of Monday evening.
Efforts to reach the owners of the company Monday were not successful.
How to avoid embezzlement
Beck said businesses and nonprofits, no matter how small, should put checks and balances into place that will help discourage any employee from stealing.
“It’s just one of those things where the company puts a lot of trust in a single person, and it’s happening more and more where we’re getting complaints about trustworthy employees who have a longstanding employment,” he said. “We’re seeing it be more and more common.”
Beck said he recommends that companies have more than one person familiar with key procedures, such as the handling of cash and software systems used to balance the books.
“Having two signatures on a check is key,” he said. “And, if possible, have random audits from the outside.”