MANATEE -- A Bradenton bookkeeper who is still serving probation for embezzling more than $400,000 from her previous employer is once again accused of defrauding an employer.
Annique Newton, 34, was arrested July 9 and charged with scheming to defraud Cactus Sky Communications, a small Bradenton marketing firm, after allegedly helping herself to more than $17,000.
Peter Martin, president of Cactus Sky, says the incident has been a huge business nightmare.
"This was someone I trusted and she did this while on Christmas vacation," Martin said. "The staff thought she was doing end-of-the-year bookkeeping. She was coming in every day when she normally came in a couple times a week."
Martin said Newton was writing herself two to three checks a day, forging Martin's signature. She apparently didn't mail actual bill payments to keep Martin's account balance appearing normal.
Newton's attorney, Colleen Glenn, was not available for comment.
Newton is still on probation for the sentence she received in a 2009 Sarasota case when she was convicted of first-degree grand theft and fraudulent use of credit cards. Newton received a 21.9-month prison sentence and 28 years' probation.
Newton went by Annique Lesage at the time of her 2009 conviction, which was before her most recent marriage.
Newton was released from custody in July on a $7,500 bond on the latest charges, but she was arrested again this week for violating the terms of her probation. She has since been transported to the Sarasota County jail, where she is being held without bond.
The terms of Newton's
probation stipulated that she needed to report any new employment to her probation officer, who then has to contact the employer to assure she was not handling money. "It hit us pretty hard," Martin said. "We are not a big company, so $21,000 had a big effect."
In addition to reduction of cash flow that sent thesmall marketing firm into a bit of a tailspin, Martinnoted the biggest drainwas the time and energy in having to investigate the matter.
According to an arrest warrant complaint, Newton wrote 34 checks that she later deposited into an account at Florida Central Credit Union for her shell business, The Sage Services.
Newton created the bogus company in October 2010 and later changed its mailing address to a post office box in Ellenton, state records show.
Newton has since repaid some of the money to Martin and even asked that he not press charges if she repaid it all.
The case will be prosecuted by the State Attorney's Office.
State Attorney Ed Brodsky says many businesses fall prey to fraud because they depend solely on one person to handle their bookkeeping.
Recovering the stolen money is often an impossible situation if money has been spent already.
During Newton's employment, Martin says she purchased a new car with cash. He's also recently learned that she and her husband have also purchased a new home. Records indicate that Newton and her husband recently purchased a $209,000 home in Parrish.
Martin says his bank, Wells Fargo, is not covering the loss yet, stating the fraud claim was not filed within 30 days.
"My concern is I found out what she did completely by accident," Martin said.