MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A 74-year-old Wisconsin woman is accused of stealing more than $500,000 from her Roseville employer and using if for gambling money and shopping on television, according to charges filed in Ramsey County Court.
Linda Cheryl Geater was charged with 10 counts of theft by swindle in connection with the case. The incidents happened from June of 2012 to March of this year.
According to the charges, Geater was a bookkeeper for about 40 years at Northwestern Power Equipment Company, headquartered in Roseville. It’s a business that provides equipment for use in water and wastewater treatment systems. She was a trusted employee until the owner discovered she was stealing from the business.
The complaint states the owner suspected the theft back in March after seeing a bank statement from U.S. Bank on her desk. He observed electronic transactions that didn’t appear to be business-related. They included payments to Sam’s Club, Xcel Energy and AT&T. The owner contacted the bank and examined more statements, and saw checks payable to Geater. She was not in a position that required her to pay for supplies or business expenses on her own that required reimbursement.
The complaint states the only time Geater should have been getting checks from NWPE is during company payroll. Checks always had the pay period printed on the check, but on checks made out to Geater that the owner saw, there was no pay period listed. Each check had two signatures on it, Geater and the owner’s business partner. The business partner told police she would ask him to sign blank checks at the same time so she could pay bills. He said he trusted her and had no reason to believe the request was inappropriate.
The business owner contacted authorities in March 23, 2017 and reported his findings. Geater was arrested three days later. A police investigation showed more than $500,000 in unauthorized checks and discovered that they had been deleted or not entered into the company’s Quickbook files, maintained by Geater. She also set up online payments from the company’s account to cover her personal expenses to Sam’s Club, Capitol One, AT&T and Xcel Energy. Geater also manipulated the files to make them appear to match the bank balances.
Authorities executed a search warrant at her home in Osceola, Wis., back in April. She admitted there to stealing from the company and said some of the money was spent on gambling, and she said she was drawn to shopping shows on TV.
The complaint states unauthorized checks from June of 2012 to March of 2017 totaled more than $581,000. The investigation showed the theft started as far back as 2006 and the total theft from the company was more than $1 million.