Okeechobee eatery owner betrayed by friend

OKEECHOBEE — For Jim McCoin, the owner of Cowboy’s BBQ and Steak Company, the arrest of his bookkeeper Wendy Madrigal was a double whammy.

Not only did she allegedly steal over $301,000 from his company, but she betrayed his friendship.

“I hate to talk bad about her because we were friends,” said Mr. McCoin, in a Wednesday, May 25, phone interview. “Our daughters played volleyball together.”
Apparently Madrigal didn’t put much stock in their friendship because from September 2010 until Dec. 31, 2013, she supposedly stole a total of $301,156.49 from Mr. McCoin’s company.

Madrigal, 44, N.W. Seventh Street, was arrested Monday, May 23, on felony charges of first-degree grand theft and making false entry into corporate books. She was booked into the Okeechobee County Jail then released after posting $85,000 bond.
This was not her first arrest for cooking a restaurant’s books.
In July 2015 she was arrested on a felony count of grand theft after she reportedly cheated another eatery out of $13,392.58. On top of that, she billed the restaurant $45 a week for doing their books from 2012 until October 2014 for a total of $6,615.
She was arrested Monday after a lengthy investigation by Detective Bill Saum, of the Okeechobee City Police Department (OCPD).

Mr. McCoin recalled a call from the detective in regard to his investigation.

“Detective Saum called me one day and said ‘you’re gonna want to sit down,’” said Mr. McCoin.

The OCPD investigator then asked the eatery’s owner: “What do you think she stole?”

“I said, ‘I don’t know — $50,000?’”

“He said: ‘$301,000 is what we’ve found so far.”

“I said: ‘whooooa,’” gasped Mr. McCoin.

In the OCPD detective’s arrest report, he documented how Madrigal took money from Cowboy’s by overcharging for taxes and, in some cases, not paying any taxes at all. Which, then brought the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) down on Mr. McCoin.

“The IRS called and said ‘you didn’t pay this,’ and we said ‘yes we did,’” said Mr. McCoin. “We were arguing with them. I told them ‘I’m sure she (Madrigal) paid it, if she said so.’

“Right now, I’m paying three different bills. I pay $100 a week just to keep the IRS at bay. We were in trouble with the IRS over our Stuart store and I kept arguing and arguing with the (IRS) guy,” Mr. McCoin offered.

He said the IRS gave him a year to rectify his tax situation. But when that year passed, he had to make arrangements to pay the back taxes and fines.

“It put me in a bad spot,” recalled Mr. McCoin.
As far as that Stuart store, because of the alleged theft from his company Mr. McCoin was forced to close that restaurant and put some 40 people out of work.

“She was stealing money every time you turned around. That’s probably the big reason we failed (in Stuart),” he continued. “I didn’t point my finger at her because I didn’t know what it was.”

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

Then, in 2011, the detective pointed out how she began adding excess monies to the payroll totals and the taxes. The restaurant would then give her a check for the amount she told them, and she would reportedly then deposit that check in her business account — Madrigal Management LLC.
She would allegedly keep the excess monies, as well as the unpaid taxes.

The OCPD investigator then documented the overages turned in by Madrigal. Some times, stated the detective, the company’s overpayment could be as much as $12,000 or more.

“In 2013, Wendy Madrigal was overpaid $42,701.85 by Cowboy’s. There is no known record of Madrigal returning the overpayment to Cowboy’s,” added Detective Saum.
And, continued the investigator, that was for one of Mr. McCoin’s restaurants.

In 2013 alone she was overpaid a total of $125,986.90 by Cowboy’s, said Detective Saum.

“We couldn’t figure out what it was. She was able to keep things looking the same,” explained Mr. McCoin. “I couldn’t find the problem.”

Detective Saum said the thefts came to light after Vero Beach accountant and certified IRS enrolled agent Josephine Holtzclaw was brought in to examine the company’s books. After some digging, she was able to find the overages and unpaid taxes.

“She’s cost me even more money. But, it’s worth it,” Mr. McCoin said.

If Madrigal is found guilty the IRS will then expect her to pay the taxes she reportedly didn’t pay, as well as interest and fines.

Mr. McCoin has owned Cowboy’s for seven years and his restaurants are now ‘cooking with grease.’

“It’s over now. It’s all good,” he said. “We’re making money now like we’re supposed to be.”

He then reiterated how much it hurt him to have Madrigal arrested.

“I hate that his happened — we were friends,” he said, with his voice trailing off.

Madrigal went before Circuit Court Judge Dan Vaughn Wednesday, May 25, for docket call regarding the first case (#2015CF405) filed against her. Her attorney R. Wayne Richter asked for, and received, a continuance so the case was set for a July 13 docket call.

Her arraignment date on this week’s arrest (# 2016CF386) has been set for June 24 at 10 a.m.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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