Bookkeeper accused of stealing more then $300,000 from Okeechobee restaurants

OKEECHOBEE — An Okeechobee woman, hired as a payroll clerk for a local restaurant chain, has been arrested and accused of stealing over $300,000 from that company.

Detective Bill Saum, of the Okeechobee City Police Department (OCPD), stated Wendy Carol Madrigal took the money during a period from Sept. 2010 until Dec. 31, 2013.MADRIGAL, WENDY

Madrigal, 44, N.W. Seventh Street, was arrested Monday, May 23, on a warrant charging her with first-degree grand theft $100,000 or more, and making false entry into corporate books.

She was booked into the Okeechobee County Jail on a bond of $325,000. Jail records show she has been released on bond, after that bond amount was lowered Tuesday, May 24, by Circuit Judge Dan Vaughn at Madrigal’s first appearance hearing.

This was not the payroll clerk’s first brush with law enforcement.
Detective Marty D. Faulkner, of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), arrested Madrigal on July 22, 2015, on one felony count of grand theft. She was released from the county jail after posting $25,000 bond.

Detective Faulkner’s arrest report indicated she cheated another local restaurant out of $13,392.58. That amount, he continued, does not include her fees of $45 per week. The total amount of her fees from 2012 until October 2014 when she was fired by that restaurant, totaled $6,615, added Detective Faulkner.

In Detective Saum’s arrest report, he details how Madrigal bilked the chain out of $301,156.49 between 2011 and then end of 2013.
Her alleged thefts cost 40 employees their jobs when the owner of the eatery had to close the doors of one of his restaurants. The owner now finds himself in trouble with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), stated Detective Saum.

“The IRS has levied tens of thousands of dollars in civil fines and fees against (the restaurant) and (its owner),” the detective noted. “Madrigal’s actions and the IRS fines also caused the (restaurant in Stuart) to close due to a lack of sufficient operating funds.”
Simply put, Madrigal embezzled and stole money from the restaurant by overcharging for taxes or “… mostly by obtaining the inflated tax money and at times not paying the taxes at all.”

According to the detective’s report Madrigal supplied the restaurant with a report every two weeks, which was their pay cycle. This report would show how much money she needed for payroll, as well as what was needed for all state and federal taxes.

In 2011, continued the report, she began adding excess monies to the payroll totals and the taxes. The restaurant would give her a check for the amount she told them and she would then deposit them in her business account, Madrigal Management LLC.
She would then allegedly keep the excess monies, as well as the unpaid taxes.

For example: Detective Saum stated the restaurant’s taxable wages for the fourth quarter of 2013 was $69,642.29. The State Unemployment Tax Act (S.U.T.A.) rate was 4.9 percent with a total S.U.T.A. dollar amount due of $3,419.44. The Federal Unemployment Tax Act (F.U.T.A.) rate was .06 percent, which totaled $360.82. The Worker’s Compensation Insurance due was $6,955.91. This totaled $10,736.17.

However, continued the OCPD investigator, Madrigal requested and was given $23,463.02 by the restaurant. This meant she was overpaid by $12,726.85.

“In 2013, Wendy Madrigal was overpaid $42,701.85 by the (restaurant). There is no known record of Madrigal returning the overpayment to the (restaurant),” Detective Saum added.
And, he added, that was just for one of the owner’s restaurants.
In 2013 alone she was overpaid a total of $125,986.90 by the three businesses.

As mentioned above, there is no known record of the woman returning the money she was overpaid to the company, stated the detective.
In his warrant application the detective asked that Madrigal’s bond be set at $325,000.

“I would like to request a bond equal to or higher than the amount stolen by Wendy Madrigal,” asked Detective Saum in his warrant application.

Court records indicate Madrigal is being represented by West Palm Beach defense attorney Wayne Richter.

The case is being prosecuted by assistant state attorney Rob Moeller.
Court records also show Madrigal’s 2015 case has not been to trial yet, but that case is slated for docket call Wednesday, May 25, at 1:15 p.m. in front of Judge Vaughn.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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