Alberni bookkeeper convicted of bilking autoparts store

An Alberni auto supply dealer is recovering after $12,000 was misappropriated by its former bookkeeper.

A local auto supply dealer is recovering after $12,000 was misappropriated by its former bookkeeper.

M&D Autoparts has been in business in Port Alberni for years and is owned by five shareholders.

In 2009, shareholder Darren Rai suspected that the company’s bookkeeper wasn’t handling the business’s money properly.

The bookkeeper was responsible for all banking and counting out money after daily sales.

Specifically, Rai noticed a discrepancy in the over/shorts account. “A till is almost never perfect and there is either too much or too little,” shareholder Elaine Mani said. “The amount is placed in the over/short account and we were coming up short on the short side.”

Rai began counting the cash before the bookkeeper could get to it and noticed a discrepancy between the amount he counted and the amount the bookkeeper deposited.

Rai brought his concerns to the other shareholders. Further proof arose in the business’s year-end statements. “The adjustments in the over/shorts just weren’t right,” Mani said.

The discrepancies dated back to 2008.

The bookkeeper was confronted and dismissed. The police were contacted and in 2010 charges recommended.

Officials from the Crown prosecutors’ office at Port Alberni provincial court confirmed that Rose Szepat was convicted of one count of theft over $5,000 and was ordered to repay $9,000 to M&D Autoparts.

“Getting the money back wasn’t enough, there had to be a consequence for this and there was,” Mani said. “We want to do our part to make sure she can’t do this again.”

There was more than money taken from the business, he said. The shareholders’ sense of trust was violated, something that’s hard to get past.

The incident occurred during the recession.

There were times when the shareholders forwent being paid or held off giving raises and all the while ensuring that Szepat got paid, Mani said.

“She was in a position of trust and we didn’t think we had to worry about her,” Mani said.

“It felt like we all took a big kick.”

reporter@albernivalleynews.com