A Magnolia woman has been arrested and charged in Harris County, after she allegedly embezzled nearly $200,000 from her Tomball employer.
Cindy Lee Berry, 44, was charged with Theft of greater than $100,000, but less than $200,000, after officials allege she stole the money over a period of a year-and-a-half fromher employer Johnston Water Well Service. The thefts allegedly took place from Jan 2011 through August of 2012.
The owners of the company have also filed a civil suit in Montgomery County against Berry. Their attorney in the civil case, Field Hudgens, said that the Johnston's discovered some irregularities when looking over their books.
"It came to my client's attention that there were irregularities in the books, checks were missing among other things and an audit showed that there was nearly $200,000 missing," Hudgens said. "After more digging it became clear to them who was responsible."
At that point the Johnston's turned over the information to the Harris County Sheriff's Office who investigated the case.
"We worked with law enforcement agencies to provide all the information to them," Hudgens said.
After completing a lengthy investigation, the Harris County District Attorney's Office filed charges against Berry a month ago, after a grand jury decided to indict her.
"The DA's office has taken a very hard look at this case and is treating it as a very serious matter," said assistant district attorney Lester Blizzard. "It was reported to us and we found evidence to support the alleged embezzlement."
Berry was arrested on April 18. She made a $100,000 bond on April 26 and was released.
Her attorney Stephen Jackson of Conroe said he is still in the early stages of building Berry's defense strategy.
"I have been in touch with her civil attorney and the district attorney is cooperating with us in handing over the information we need," Jackson said. "We will be digging into the records in order to get to the bottom of this. It's a private matter for the Berry's and we will help them through this."
Laura Johnston, who owns the business with her husband, said that the ordeal left her stunned.
"We didn't suspect anything and when we found (the theft) it was a big shock," she said. "We felt betrayed."
Hudgens said he is trying to work out a settlement agreement with Berry's civil attorney.
"We are in the process of contacting Berry's attorney to try and reach an agreement so they can recover some of their money," he said. "I am happy to report that Johnston Water Well Service has survived and continues to be a viable and strong business in Tomball."
Johnston said she hopes other business owners learn from her situation.
"People need to be watching," she said. "I don't want this to happen to others."
If convicted, Berry could face a punishment of two to 20 years in state prison.