University police arrested UAA accounting employee Sheralyn Williams Feb. 18 for allegedly stealing $7,699.69 from UAA in the last year.
Williams, a 13-year employee of the university, resigned immediately from her post as lead accounting technician following her arrest. University Police Chief Dale Pittman said Williams is charged with three counts of theft in the second degree, a felony, and four counts of theft in the third degree, a misdemeanor crime.
Williams was arrested while getting into her car outside the Administration Building. A four-week investigation began when Soren Orley, associate vice chancellor for Budget and Finance, and Karen Wegrzyn, accounting service manager, told UPD money was missing Jan. 26, Pittman said.
Williams was arraigned Feb. 19 and her pre-indictment hearing is set for March 15, said Mark Marones, special assistant with the Department of Law.
Williams allegedly used two methods to steal the money.
“She would create manipulations in the accounting procedure, to hide the money, and then take the cash out,” Pittman said. “The other way was to take the entire deposit bag.”
According to charging documents, $4,045 in cash was found missing when the deposit did not balance. Williams allegedly manipulated the deposit by adding a $4,048 check that was not listed on the university account in order to cover up the missing cash.
As the investigation continued, an additional $3,654.69 was discovered missing creating a total loss of $7,699.69.
Williams gave UPD permission to search her work place on Jan. 27, where officers found evidence of the theft. The search was postponed until Feb. 1 when a locksmith opened one of Williams’ desk drawers and a petty cash box, after keys she had provided would not open either, according to charging documents.
UPD officers collected reconciliation sheets, checks that had not been deposited and deposit bags with missing cash as evidence.
When Williams was asked about the missing cash Jan. 27, she would not give an explanation for the missing money. Charging documents say she admitted to breaking the university policy requiring two employees to be present when a deposit bag is opened. Williams said if money was missing, it was her fault, according to the documents.
Pittman said Williams didn’t admit to the theft and denied knowing why the money was gone.
Williams oversaw the other cashiers in the accounting department, Pittman said. Charging documents state she was put in charge of finding one of the missing deposit bags, which officers later found in her locked desk drawer.
UPD has received four separate theft reports from the accounting department during the last ten years, Pittman said. He is sure the accounting department is reexamining its procedures to prevent embezzlement in the future, but these same procedures are what allowed the department to discover the theft, Pittman said.
“Any procedure can be defeated from inside. The best that any institution can do is to try to make it as difficult as possible,” Pittman said.
Williams could not be reached for comment.