Thursday, February 26, 2015

California Woman Accused Of Embezzling $650K From Winery Pleads Not Guilty; Ran Local Crime Stoppers Web Site

From the Napa Valley Register on 2/24/2015:

A St. Helena woman accused of embezzling $650,000 from a winery pleaded not guilty to the charges on Tuesday.

Gerilee “Geri” Densberger’s next hearing will be on March 18 at 8:30 a.m. in Napa County Superior Court. She remains in jail, with bail set at $500,000.

Densberger was briefly a fugitive earlier this month before turning herself in to authorities. She’s familiar with fugitives — Densberger for years oversaw the Napa Valley Crime Stoppers website, where her name and photo appeared prior to her arrest.

Densberger, 50, is accused of stealing the money from Whitehall Lane Winery near St. Helena, where she worked as a bookkeeper and assistant between 2009 and last year, according to court records.

She’s suspected of embezzling more than $400,000 in payroll funds and depositing the money in bank accounts she controlled with her husband, Joseph Densberger.

She’s also accused of charging more than $200,000 to a credit card she opened in the winery’s name to pay her son’s college tuition and travel expenses in Nebraska, court records said.

She was fired from the family winery in November after the allegations were uncovered. The winery owners are also suing Densberger’s family to recoup the money, according to a civil complaint.

Thomas Leonardini Sr., owner of the winery, told the Register his family was shocked at the level of her dishonesty.

“Ms. Densberger was a trusted employee and was treated like a member of our family. Sadly, her actions have and will continue to hurt her own family and have a lasting effect on them.”

Densberger, a former board member at Napa Valley Crime Stoppers, resigned in November after the accusations.

In an interview in 2012, Densberger said she volunteered about 10 hours a week for the nonprofit organization, which gives cash rewards of up to $1,000 to anonymous tipsters for information leading to the arrest of suspects and fugitives.

No comments: