Bookkeeper charged with embezzling $852k from Pa. construction company

Updated Aug 20, 2013
Ruth J. Phillips Credit: Delcotimes.comRuth J. Phillips Credit:

Consider this a cautionary tale as to why contractors should know the signs of embezzlement.

The former bookkeeper of a family-owned construction company in eastern Pennsylvania has been charged with embezzling more than $852,000 from the company since 2007, according to a report from the Associated Press.

Ruth Phillips, 54, was arraigned last Thursday on 687 counts of forgery for checks she wrote to herself and other businesses. Phillips is also facing three theft-related charges for her alleged crimes against Pop Tuna Builders.

Many of the businesses she wrote checks to had nothing to do with the construction company. For instance, she wrote a check for $110,000 to Verizon and nearly $300,000 to Chase card services.

What’s worse about this situation is that Phillips was a family friend to the company’s owners, the D’Annunzio family. They hired Phillips to handle their bookkeeping in 2005, according to Phillips was able to steal $142,000 in 2007; $152,000 in 2008; $117,000 in 2009; $159,000 in 2010; $134,000 in 2011; $130,000 in 2012; and another $18,000 before she was found out.

Investigators say Phillips has stopped cooperating with investigators, but not before she signed over her home and $40,000 in a savings account after the thefts were discovered earlier this year.

Be sure to check out our article on how to spot and stop embezzlement in your company. Then download our free sheet of 15 embezzlement tips.