Bookkeeper accused of thefts from restaurants' deposits

Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City HeraldApril 24, 2013 

A bookkeeper was charged Wednesday with allegedly taking more than $145,000 from two companies by reducing the amount of their restaurants' daily cash deposits.

Venessa Spring Sommer, 27, of West Richland, is accused of pocketing the difference over a few years.

Her first court appearance is scheduled May 9 in Benton County Superior Court on one charge of first-degree theft.

The charge includes the aggravating circumstance that it was a major economic offense given the substantial loss and the fact Sommer allegedly misused her position of fiduciary responsibility.

Court documents show that Sommer started working for the companies as a bookkeeper in 2007, though she reportedly did not steal any cash during her first year or two.

Her job duties included picking up cash deposits from restaurants, including Tony Roma's in Kennewick, owned by Columbia Center Foods and Sea Swiper, both limited liability companies in Kennewick.

Sommer was responsible for reconciling petty cash funds for each restaurant and depositing money in the bank. She regularly removed cash from the restaurant deposits after picking them up, then entered the remaining amount of cash into the accounting software even though numbers didn't match up with the daily sales printouts, documents said.

The discrepancies in one of the restaurant's deposits first caught the attention of the owners last June. Sommer then explained that she hadn't been counting the daily deposits or reconciling them with the point of sales printouts, court documents said.

Sommer wasn't suspected of theft at the time.

Then in October, the owners were investigating shortages in all of the restaurants when they discovered missing receipts from petty cash and several checks that had been forged to petty cash.

Sommer reportedly went home sick Oct. 19 and never came back to work. She sent a text message to the owners on Oct. 29 that she was quitting.

A Kennewick police detective met with Sommer and her attorney April 5.

She reportedly admitted stealing money over several years, court documents said.

She said she couldn't remember the first time she took cash, but estimated that it added up to about $90,000, documents said.

-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer

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