KINGMAN - Former city of Kingman budget analyst Diane Richards was arrested Wednesday after she was indicted on 23 felony counts ranging from theft to forgery to misuse of public monies.
In total, Richards allegedly stole more than $1.1 million starting in July of 2007 through October of last year from the city, according to the indictment.
Richards was terminated in November after special agents with the state Attorney General's office and the federal Department of Homeland Security served search warrants at City Hall and Richards' Kingman home. She reportedly admitted to embezzling money from an employee benefits flow-through account, which vendors use to pay down insurance type claims.
Those same special agents took Richards into custody. The Arizona Grand Jury handed down 18 felony theft counts, three counts of forgery and two counts of misuse of public monies. The initial investigation revealed Richards allegedly embezzled roughly $300,000 since 2010, but an internal audit revealed the alleged amount was more than $1.1 million and that the embezzlement began three years earlier than previously thought. She apparently used the money not only for gambling in Laughlin, but to make car payments and personal purchases.
She is accused of: Using a city credit card to cover personal expenses and transferring money from a JP Morgan Chase city account to make payments on a personal line of credit with the following banks or credit issuers (with the amount allegedly embezzled):
Chase credit card, in excess of $100,000;
Chase Bank, in excess of $100,000;
Discover, in excess of $100,000;
Barclay's, in excess of $100,000;
First National Bank of Omaha, in excess of $25,000;
Comenity, in excess of $25,000;
Walmart, in excess of $25,000;
HSBC, in excess of $25,000;
Santander, in excess of $25,000;
Amazon, in excess of $25,000;
HSBC Automotive Finance, in excess of $25,000;
Capital One, in excess of $4,000;
BBVA Compass Bank, in excess of $4,000;
American Express, in excess of $4,000;
Sam's Club, in excess of $4,000;
Credit One Bank, in excess of $4,000;
JC Penney, in excess of $3,000;
and Target, in excess of $3,000.
Two of the three forgery counts allege Richards gave the city a falsified invoice representing the credit card was used for the purchase of books, and the third alleges she misrepresented the credit card was used to purchase materials.
The alleged thefts began on July 1, 2007 and continued through last Nov. 1, according to the Attorney General's office. The misuse of public money counts allege Richards was given authority to manage the Employee Benefits Trust Account as its "security master," according to the indictment, which allowed her to authorize transactions without supervisor approval. The second misuse of public money count alleges Richards used the city credit card without authorization. She allegedly used it to embezzle nearly $122,000 and the employee benefit account to take nearly $992,000.
It is not yet known which Mohave County Superior Court judge will hear the case. She is being held in the Mohave County jail on a $100,000 bond, according to Mia Garcia, Attorney General Mark Brnovich's spokeswoman.
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