Bookkeeper Admits She Embezzled $200,000

Times Staff Writer

A Glendale woman pleaded guilty Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court to charges that she embezzled more than $200,000 in less than a year from two companies that had employed her as head bookkeeper.

Leticia Bernabe, 49, could receive a maximum sentence of more than 11 years at a scheduled April 30 sentencing before Judge David Horowitz . In a deal struck with prosecutors, Bernabe will plead guilty to seven embezzlement and forgery charges, but 43 other counts will be dismissed, Deputy Dist. Atty. Judy Gray said.

Bernabe was arrested last August on charges that she forged checks while working for R. Doherty International Inc., a wholesale sportswear firm in Los Angeles.

Phony Resume Alleged

Investigators alleged that while Bernabe was free on bail she prepared a phony resume and was hired by Advanced Management Systems Inc., an advertising firm in West Hollywood, where she again altered checks.

Bernabe admitted to investigators that while working at the companies she would receive her paychecks and then significantly increase the amount by adding figures to the checks.

"Her pay for a while was $925 a week," Gray said. "She would make it $6,925, cash the check and, because of her position as being in charge of the books, nobody would find out about it."

Bernabe admitted that she would also buy office supplies for the companies, and, when she received the expense checks, would alter the amount, Gray said.

Invested in Restaurant

Police arrested Bernabe on charges that she embezzled about $130,000 at the sportswear company and about $80,000 while working for the advertising agency, where she was arrested in February.

Police searched Bernabe's home following both arrests and found several of the checks she was accused of forging, Gray said. She said Bernabe used the embezzled money in part to invest in the Q Restaurant and Disco Club in Hollywood, where police found more evidence.

Bernabe has one prior conviction for embezzling from another Los Angeles-based company, Gray said.

Among the counts that will be dropped are charges that she also embezzled from companies in Huntington Park and San Pedro.

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