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Bookkeeper accused of stealing nearly $140K from Latrobe funeral home

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Thursday, July 10, 2014, 11:15 p.m.
 

A Latrobe woman allegedly spent part of her time working at a funeral home helping herself to nearly $140,000.

Stacy Jo Plummer, 46, took $137,787 from Lopatich Funeral Home in Latrobe between January 2009 and January of this year while working as a bookkeeper and administrative assistant, Latrobe police and Westmoreland County detectives said.

John Lopatich contacted police in February about the missing money after he hired Schneider Downs Accounting to perform a forensic audit. Lopatich, his brother, a co-owner of the business, and Plummer were the only people who had access to petty cash and other funds, according to investigators.

Auditors determined $117,877 was taken from petty cash during the five-year period, investigators said. In addition, the business had expenses totaling $11,218 from OfficeMax and $7,467 as reimbursements to Plummer without receipts supporting the purchases, police said.

Three checks totaling $1,225 were made payable to Lopatich but actually were payable to either petty cash or Plummer, authorities said.

John Lopatich couldn't be reached for comment.

He confronted Plummer in January and fired her, according to court documents. When police questioned her, she “denied any theft but acknowledged she may have made some accounting errors occasionally,” authorities said.

“Plummer continued to deny any theft but stated she would be willing to work with Lopatich to reach a resolution,” police said.

Her attorney, Michael DeMatt, said Plummer has cooperated with police and continues to deny any wrongdoing.

Plummer told police she suspected two other employees took the funds from petty cash.

One of the employees said he sometimes deposited checks and cash in a bank account, using a zippered bag he handed to a teller, investigators said.

The deposit slip that detailed the amount of the checks and cash already was in the bag when he received it, he told police. He then returned the receipt to the funeral home.

The second employee said he is not involved in the financial end of the business, investigators said. That employee said he used a company credit card to buy fuel for vehicles. The gas card is kept in the petty cash drawer, the employee said.

In May, police went to the OfficeMax store on Route 30 in Hempfield and showed a photo of Plummer to a manager and an assistant manager.

“Both of them replied, ‘That is Stacy,' ” investigators said.

“When asked how they knew Stacy, they stated that for the past two to three years, Stacy was a frequent customer of the OfficeMax there,” investigators said.

She purchased ink, toner, paper, pens, candy, headphones, ear buds and other electronic items, police said.

“Lopatich stated that all of their office supplies were purchased through a local vendor in Latrobe, and they did not deal with OfficeMax,” investigators said.

Plummer made purchases at OfficeMax every few weeks for two or three years but stopped shopping there in January, the managers said.

Lopatich told police that since Plummer has not been working at the funeral home, petty cash expenditures have “dropped significantly.”

Plummer, who is charged with theft, receiving stolen property and misapplication of funds, has a preliminary hearing on Aug. 4 before Unity District Judge Michael Mahady.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622.

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