Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Columbia County, Georgia Investigating 2 Separate Embezzlements Approximately $200K Each

From the Columbia County News-Times on 4/15/13

One arrested, probe continues in massive embezzlement cases

Howard Lumber, Stratford cases near closure

By Barry L. Paschal
One person has been charged and another is still under investigation in a pair of Columbia County embezzlement cases that netted nearly half a million dollars.

Charles Holtzclaw, 26, of Martinez, turned himself in to the Columbia County Detention Center on Friday and was released after posting $25,000 bond, according to jail records.

Holtzclaw had been interviewed by investigators earlier in the week regarding thefts last fall from Howard Lumber Co. in Evans. He was allowed to turn himself in by the end of the week, said Columbia County Sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris.

Charged under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, Holtzclaw worked as a salesman for Howard Lumber. He is accused of brokering deals for building materials and keeping the payments, then covering the thefts by charging the materials to other accounts, Morris said.

“It’s over $200,000,” he said.

Holtzclaw was “pocketing money received from customers for materials purchased from the business. He would create a fictitious work order, then bill the cost of the material to another customer’s credit account to cover up the money he took,” according to an incident report.

“Howard is out the materials and the money for those materials,” Morris said. “I haven’t heard of any restitution” being made.

Meanwhile, Columbia County authorities continue to investigate the theft of an estimated $192,000 during the past five years from the Stratford Property Owners Association.

The former treasurer of the group is a suspect and “continues to cooperate” in the probe, which involves sorting out thefts from legitimate payments made on behalf of the homeowners group, Morris said.

Charges could be made in the next month or so, he speculated.

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