|For Immediate Release
Case # 10CF2873
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
CFO AND ACCOUNTANT CHARGED WITH STEALING OVER $1.5 MILLION BY PROCESSING OVER 800 FRAUDULENT CHECKS TO THEMSELVES
SANTA ANA – A Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and accountant have been charged with stealing over $1.5 million from their employer by processing over 800 unauthorized checks to themselves. Maria Lorena Vega Yarrish, 40, Buena Park, is charged with 40 felony counts of computer access and fraud. Co-defendant Eric Wayne Helgemo, 50, Vista, is charged with 38 felony counts of computer access and fraud. Both defendants face sentencing enhancements and allegations for property damage over $1.3 million, causing loss over $100,000, and aggravated white collar crime over $100,000. If convicted, Yarrish faces a maximum sentence of 37 years in state prison and Helgemo faces a maximum sentence of 35 years in state prison. The defendants are being held on $1.5 million bail and are required to prove that bail money is from a legal and legitimate source. Yarrish and Helgemo are expected to be arraigned today, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010, at 10:00 a.m. or 3:30 p.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.
In August 2000, Yarrish is accused of being hired as a human resources representative for Pacific Polymers, Inc., a chemical sealant company. In January 2002, Helgemo is accused of being hired by the same company as the Vice President and CFO. Helgemo directly supervised Yarrish.
Yarrish is accused of having the responsibility of processing employee timesheets using a computer payroll and paycheck system. Helgemo, who prepared financial reports for the company owner, is accused of having the responsibility of reviewing the weekly payroll and paycheck reports upon completion by Yarrish.
Between 2003 and 2008, Yarrish and Helgemo are accused of stealing over $1.5 million from Pacific Polymers by processing between one and 11 fraudulent paychecks per pay period for the two defendants. Helgemo is accused of taking 593 fraudulent payments amounting to over $1.1 million. Yarrish is accused of taking 229 fraudulent payments amounting to over $340,000. The fraud went undetected for several years, as Helgemo was entrusted to monitor Yarrish’s work.
In June 2008, Pacific Polymers was sold to Illinois Tool Works, Inc. (ITW) and the defendants’ jobs were subsequently eliminated. The theft was discovered after the purchase by ITW during an audit of Pacific Polymer’s finances. The case was investigated by the Garden Grove Police Department.
Deputy District Attorney Marc Labreche of the Major Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case.