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.
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.