The Clay County Prosecutor's Office has alleged a rural Clay County woman has been involved in "one of the largest ongoing schemes of deception and fraud committed against her employer" recently filed in Clay Superior Court.
"This is potentially the largest case of this type filed in Clay County in recent history," Prosecutor Lee Reberger told The Brazil Times Monday afternoon. "Although I am unable to comment further due to the pending charges in this matter, I applaud the efforts of the Brazil City Police Department and Detective Clint McQueen. It was extremely helpful that this case was so thoroughly investigated before it was presented to the Clay County Prosecutor's Office."
Due to the serious nature of the allegations, McQueen confirmed the meticulous investigation took more than six months to complete before a probable cause affidavit and charging information could be presented against Sonya Stroud, 40, an office employee of Brazil Trucking Inc.
"It takes a lot of time to investigate and confirm banking information in this type of case," Brazil City police Chief Dave Archer said. "Copies of the financial records, the questionable checks, statements, ledgers and other documentation to supplement the allegations by the victim, which in this case was a business."
Information in those court documents alleges Stroud committed one class C felony charge of forgery and five class D felony charges of theft stemming from her exerting "unauthorized control" over numerous company checks without the permission or knowledge of her employer.
The documents list individual incidents dating back to January 2004 that total more than $280,000. Although the investigation allegedly found incidents prior to 2004, McQueen said the Indiana statute of limitations allowed the state to only pursue criminal charges on any transactions taking place during the previous five years.
While trying to reconcile why a check was wrote with financial records, McQueen said the business owners became aware something was wrong earlier this year.
"One check led to another," McQueen said about the initial theft report filed in late June.
Clay Superior Court Judge Blaine Akers issued an arrest warrant at the request of the prosecutor's office Friday.
On Saturday, Stroud, 40, was taken into custody at an undisclosed location without incident and booked into the Clay County Justice Center.
On Monday, Stroud appeared before Akers, who entered an informal plea of not guilty. A pre-trial conference was set for 1:30 p.m., Feb. 2, and a jury trial was tentatively scheduled April 6.
Upon posting a $10,000 cash bond with no 10 percent allowed, Akers ordered Stroud should have no contact with any witnesses involved in the case or the victim without order of the court.
As of press time, jail officials confirmed Stroud remained incarcerated to await further court proceedings per the court calendar.