Man allegedly steals over $400,000 from employer

5th District Courthouse, St. George, Utah, date not specified | File photo, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A 45-year-old accountant is facing felony charges after allegedly embezzling more than $400,000 from a St. George business over the course of several years.

Richard William McDonald, who now lives in Greer, South Carolina, has been charged with six second-degree felony charges, including one count of unlawful dealing with property by a fiduciary and five counts of theft, as well as one third-degree felony count of unlawful acquisition of a finance card without consent.

On Sept. 20, 2018, the owner of a pool supply business in St. George reported to police that McDonald, a former employee of the store, had embezzled more than $400,000, according to the affidavit filed in support of the charges. McDonald was the company’s accountant for more than four years and was responsible for making all payroll and business expense payments.

According to an affidavit, the alleged theft was discovered by the owner after he was notified that several of the company’s credit line accounts were past due, which took him by surprise, since the ledgers maintained by McDonald showed a zero balance for the accounts.

The owner hired an outside accounting firm to go over the company’s financial records, and it was discovered that McDonald allegedly paid himself more than what was authorized by the company and had transferred funds from the business accounts to personal bank accounts on a number of occasions.

Since McDonald had access to the company’s finance accounts and was responsible for making payroll transfers from the business account into the employees’ personal bank accounts, police say he was able to disguise the payroll transfers by linking the payment to a second bank account opened by the defendant to deposit the unauthorized payments.

The accounting firm determined that McDonald overpaid himself by more than $78,400 in 2017 and more than $53,000 in 2018. Additionally, the affidavit alleges that McDonald used the business’ bank accounts to make payments on his personal credit accounts to the tune of more than $303,000 over a two-year period. He also allegedly made $7,300 in unauthorized fuel purchases on the company gas credit card since 2016 and continued to purchase fuel with the card even after his employment was terminated by the company.

“Due to Richard’s unique position of trust in the company and his direct access to the company’s finances, he was able to directly steal from the company in excess of $400,000” the detective overseeing the case noted in the affidavit.

The business owner told police that McDonald used manipulated financial and payroll statements to hide the theft and present a financial picture of the business that was inaccurate and misleading.

According to authorities, immediately after he was terminated from the company, McDonald fled the area and moved his family out of state to avoid being arrested.

McDonald’s case is currently progressing through the courts, and he has yet to enter a plea.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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