News

Ex-restaurant employee allegedly embezzled $200K

Palo Alto's Rangoon Ruby, Burma Ruby targeted at height of economic crisis during COVID-19 pandemic

A car drives by restaurants open for takeout, including Burma Ruby, in downtown Palo Alto on May 14, 2020. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

A former employee of Palo Alto restaurants Rangoon Ruby and Burma Ruby has been charged with embezzling more than $200,000, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office announced on Wednesday.

Jennifer Colvin, 40, of Oakland, was the director of human resources, payroll and risk management for Rangoon Ruby Investments, LLC and Burma Ruby Investments, LLC in Palo Alto. She allegedly increased her monthly salary and paid herself bonuses without authorization.

The alleged embezzlement occurred between February 2019 and October 2020. The owner of Rangoon Ruby and Burma Ruby discovered the alleged fraud in November 2020 after noticing accounting discrepancies. Colvin had given herself multiple $15,000 bonuses and made a $65,000 payment for a Porsche, among other alleged thefts, investigators reportedly found.

Colvin has been charged with two felony counts of theft by an employee. If convicted, she could face incarceration and be required to pay restitution to the company. Colvin is scheduled for arraignment on Wednesday afternoon in the Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose.

District Attorney Jeff Rosen cautioned business owners to watch their business finances closely.

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"This theft happened during the height of the pandemic, when local restaurants were already struggling. Please develop robust checks and balances for your business. Trust, but verify. Your livelihood depends on it," he said.

Embezzlement prevention tips from District Attorney's Office:

• Set up dual authority so oversight is built into the handling of finances (i.e., the employee handling accounting is not the same employee in charge of writing checks).

• Run background checks for people who handle finances.

• Hire a CPA firm to do a sampling of transactions on a regular interval.

• If you have a business with a high amount of cash transactions, keep good records, exercise high scrutiny and/or oversight or consider converting to a non-cash business.

• When you discover an employee has been stealing, report it immediately to the police.

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Ex-restaurant employee allegedly embezzled $200K

Palo Alto's Rangoon Ruby, Burma Ruby targeted at height of economic crisis during COVID-19 pandemic

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Oct 6, 2021, 1:34 pm

A former employee of Palo Alto restaurants Rangoon Ruby and Burma Ruby has been charged with embezzling more than $200,000, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office announced on Wednesday.

Jennifer Colvin, 40, of Oakland, was the director of human resources, payroll and risk management for Rangoon Ruby Investments, LLC and Burma Ruby Investments, LLC in Palo Alto. She allegedly increased her monthly salary and paid herself bonuses without authorization.

The alleged embezzlement occurred between February 2019 and October 2020. The owner of Rangoon Ruby and Burma Ruby discovered the alleged fraud in November 2020 after noticing accounting discrepancies. Colvin had given herself multiple $15,000 bonuses and made a $65,000 payment for a Porsche, among other alleged thefts, investigators reportedly found.

Colvin has been charged with two felony counts of theft by an employee. If convicted, she could face incarceration and be required to pay restitution to the company. Colvin is scheduled for arraignment on Wednesday afternoon in the Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose.

District Attorney Jeff Rosen cautioned business owners to watch their business finances closely.

"This theft happened during the height of the pandemic, when local restaurants were already struggling. Please develop robust checks and balances for your business. Trust, but verify. Your livelihood depends on it," he said.

• Set up dual authority so oversight is built into the handling of finances (i.e., the employee handling accounting is not the same employee in charge of writing checks).

• Run background checks for people who handle finances.

• Hire a CPA firm to do a sampling of transactions on a regular interval.

• If you have a business with a high amount of cash transactions, keep good records, exercise high scrutiny and/or oversight or consider converting to a non-cash business.

• When you discover an employee has been stealing, report it immediately to the police.

Comments

Julian Guiterrez
Registered user
another community
on Oct 6, 2021 at 4:23 pm
Julian Guiterrez, another community
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2021 at 4:23 pm

Ms. Colvin held an executive position and thus she was easily able to embezzle this large amount of money for personal raises & a Porsche.

When it comes to investigating restaurant thefts, it is always advisable to scrutinize the management & executive sectors first as humble food servers, bussers, & line cooks do not have immediate access to such large quantities of incoming revenues..

White collar criminals tend to get light sentences because most of the individuals involved in these activities are white and judged by a predominantly white judicial system.


Palo Alto Res
Registered user
Downtown North
on Oct 6, 2021 at 9:07 pm
Palo Alto Res, Downtown North
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2021 at 9:07 pm

You have to wonder how much money the 2 restaurants were pulling in for over $200,000 to go missing and for the sudden decreases in amounts were unnoticed for over 1.5 years. I can't help but think these restaurants were pulling in some serious money to avoid being caught so long.


Sally-Ann Rudd
Registered user
Downtown North
on Oct 7, 2021 at 7:25 am
Sally-Ann Rudd, Downtown North
Registered user
on Oct 7, 2021 at 7:25 am

It was only 2018 when this restaurant group had a $4M judgement against them for keeping tips and not paying overtime. Now they're not noticing someone embezzling close to $100K?
Web Link


TorreyaMan
Registered user
Palo Verde
on Oct 7, 2021 at 10:45 am
TorreyaMan, Palo Verde
Registered user
on Oct 7, 2021 at 10:45 am

I once heard that one of the most common causes of small business failure is trust in and lack of oversight of the accountant/bookkeeper, close to the situation described in this article.


Barron Parker Too
Registered user
Barron Park
on Oct 7, 2021 at 10:48 am
Barron Parker Too, Barron Park
Registered user
on Oct 7, 2021 at 10:48 am

Due diligence is often difficult. People like Ms. Colvin who work hard to embezzle that much money are typically serial embezzlers. This is their vocation, and their hobby. They act with little fear and usually have a PlanB for situations where they are challenged. When caught, they are often given light sentences because judges don't realize that they will offend again, and do so as quickly as possible. After exposure, they change their name, manufacture a new c.v., and move to another large city, to escape a record of their past offenses.

The psychiatric definition of most of these serial offenders is Antisocial Personality Disorder. They are manipulative and can be extremely persuasive. To see how persuasive, watch a YouTube video of Frank Abagnale, the subject of the movie "Catch Me If You Can".


Julian Guiterrez
Registered user
another community
on Oct 7, 2021 at 12:37 pm
Julian Guiterrez, another community
Registered user
on Oct 7, 2021 at 12:37 pm

Psychoanalysis aside, maybe the perpetrator is simply materialistic and an upwardly-mobile type who is overly preoccupied with displaying a projected image of presumed vocational success and monetary wealth.

>"The psychiatric definition..."

Many shrinks have a minimal handle on their own personal lives and it is far easier (and lucrative) to evaluate others.

Perhaps best to take what they say with a grain of salt.


Please Don't
Registered user
College Terrace
on Oct 7, 2021 at 3:46 pm
Please Don't, College Terrace
Registered user
on Oct 7, 2021 at 3:46 pm

The real question is why are the two restaurants set up as separate LLC's??? That can't be standard practice.


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