(Mankato, MN) – A woman with a lengthy history of financial fraud is accused of bilking a local business out of nearly a half million dollars.
Tamara Lee Gretz, 49, of Mankato, was charged in Blue Earth County Court Friday with felony counts of check forgery, theft by swindle and financial transaction card fraud.
According to the criminal complaint, the owner of NuStar Realty approached police in early March to report that Gretz, his office manager, was potentially embezzling from the business.The complainant said he was notified by his bank on March 4th that a check was rejected for non-sufficient funds, which seemed unlikely, he told police The following day, the owner said his attorney requested that Gretz provide bank account statements. Gretz provided a document with the balances, but left the office and didn’t return to work the next day, according to the complaint.
An internal investigation by NuStar employees estimated that Gretz had forged $233,822.97 worth of checks between 2014 and 2019, according to the complaint. They also believed Gretz was responsible for up to $100,000 worth of unauthorized charges on the business credit card.
In a report provided to police on March 21st, the complainant detailed how Gretz allegedly stole $470,045.87 from the company. Over $4,000 had been checks written out to Gretz’s family members. The complainant believed that Gretz had been using the company credit card to support her essential oils side business, according to the complaint. He also reported that Gretz posted photos on Facebook showing the family posing on an item that was purchased with the company card.
Investigation further revealed that $212,452.31 worth of forged checks had been deposited directly into a credit union account held by Gretz between March 2014 and March 2019.
Gretz was arrested at her home on March 21st.
In an interview with investigators, she said the thefts began because she was in debt, according to the complaint. Gretz told police her husband hadn’t known about the embezzlement, and all the money had gone into her account. She allegedly admitted that $212,000 was a safe estimate. She told police she’d used the credit card to purchase baby items for her daughter in Virginia, craft items, medications, house payments, and car payments.
Gretz has previously been convicted of stealing from an employer. Her criminal history includes felony theft, felony issue dishonored check, felony check forgery, and felony financial transaction card fraud, according to the complaint.
Police say they also discovered three possible social security numbers associated with Gretz.
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