Elkhart accountant accused of embezzling, gambling away more than $100,000

An Elkhart woman has been accused of embezzling, and then gambling away, more than $130,000 from her employer over four years.

Posted on Jan. 8, 2014 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Jan. 8, 2014 at 6:50 p.m.

ELKHART — An Elkhart accountant has been charged with theft after she allegedly embezzled and then gambled away more than $130,000 from her employer over four years.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed in Elkhart Superior Court 2, Virginia R. Lacefield, 63, embezzled $135,590 from Nextech Corp. from Oct. 14, 2009, to June 6, 2013, by overpaying herself and her husband through the company’s automated payroll system.

Nextech’s owner, David Gruber, reported the theft to the Elkhart Police Department on June 6, 2013.

He told officers that Lacefield, the company’s accountant, had worked for him for about 40 years. Her husband, David Lacefield, was a plant manager for the company.

Gruber told police that in 2009 the company had begun using an automated payroll system that automatically deposited employees’ paychecks into their bank accounts.

Prior to using this system, Gruber had to sign each employee’s check himself.

As the company’s accountant, Virginia Lacefield was responsible for putting employee payment information into the system.

Gruber told police he accessed the system to view employee payment information to help him decide on pay increases and he discovered that Lacefield and her husband had been overpaid on their last paychecks. As he looked further back, he found repeated overpayments to the couple.

According to his calculations, Virginia Lacefield had been overpaid by $113,785 and her husband had been paid an extra $21,805.

When Gruber confronted the Lacefields about the overpayments June 10, David Lacefield appeared shocked and Virginia Lacefield said her husband did not know about the scheme, Gruber told police in a meeting June 12.

On July 16, Elkhart Police Department detectives interviewed David Lacefield, according to the affidavit.

Lacefield told police that because his wife was an accountant, she had run the couple’s finances for the last 30 years. She gave him a weekly allowance and he never accessed their Interra Credit Union bank account online and did not have a debit card.

He said their account, to his knowledge, had very little money and they had not made any extravagant purchases, so he had not questioned his wife’s financial practices.

He also told the detectives he thought his wife had a gambling problem and she had been going to either Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City or Four Winds Casino in Hartford, Mich. at least once per week.

He had initially thought she was only gambling a couple hundred dollars per week, but he now realized she had probably been gambling the money she took from Nextech.

Virginia Lacefield was booked at the Elkhart County Jail on Dec. 31, 2013, and released on bond.

She is charged with theft of property valued at least $100,000 and, if convicted, faces two to eight years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

She is scheduled to appear for an initial hearing in Elkhart Superior Court 2 at 8:30 a.m. Monday, Jan. 13, according to the affidavit.

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