Beware of the Bookkeeper: One Small Business Bookkeeper Embezzled Big Bucks

 

Beware of the Bookkeeper:
One Small Business Bookkeeper Embezzled Big Bucks

The perils of hiring employees–at any level–without first performing a thorough employment or reference check were brought home to several small businesses that had the misfortune of employing Mr. Donald Lee Peterson.

Peterson’s career as an embezzling bookkeeper who stole over $1.8 million from a string of small businesses ended recently when he was sentenced to almost nine years in prison by a federal judge in Los Angeles, according to the Dow Jones wire service.

Peterson previously pleaded guilty to four felony counts in connection with a string of embezzlements that stretched back some 15 years. Mr. Peterson, using an alias, would be hired as a bookkeeper at a small firm and proceed to steal money from company accounts before disappearing. The 54-year-old Mr. Peterson was apprehended last year after an article about him in The Wall Street Journal was read by a small business owner who had employed him.

Besides his 105-month prison sentence, Mr. Peterson was ordered to pay more than $1.8 million in restitution. His longtime accomplice, Patrick W. Finnigan, was previously sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison.