A payroll administrator for a California senior living operator has been charged with seven felonies after allegedly embezzling more than $256,000 from her employer by funneling funds to other accounts that she controlled, authorities said Wednesday.
Deputies with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office arrested Frances Farias, 59, on charges of identity theft and grand theft on July 25, the department said in a news release. She had worked at Oakmont Senior Living, based in Windsor, CA, until May 2016.
“In early 2017, an audit of our employee 401(k) program revealed some irregularities in payroll,” Oakmont Senior Living told McKnight’s Senior Living in a statement. Further investigation, Oakmont said, pointed to Farias as the source of the thefts, which occurred from the payroll account of the development arm of the company.
“A forensic accountant, as well as the town of Windsor Police Department, were notified immediately,” Oakmont said. “In the months that followed, we worked diligently with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department and the forensic accountant to uncover all sources of fraud and the quantify that was stolen.”
According to the sheriff’s office, over a three-year period, Farias had set up 10 accounts at four different online banks under the names of fictitious employees as well as the names of real contractor employees who had worked for the company. It was into these accounts that she funneled the funds from Oakmont, the department said.
“It is important to clarify that Mrs. Farias stole from the construction payroll account of the development arm of Oakmont Senior Living and that no funds were stolen from the residents or the employees of any Oakmont senior community,” Oakmont said.
The sheriff’s office said it found evidence of Farias’ crimes while serving a $2 million warrant for her arrest. “She is also being investigated for several other fraudulent schemes as well that may result in further criminal charges,” the department said.
As of Thursday, Farias remained in the Sonoma County Jail after a judge reduced her bail to $100,000 during a Tuesday court hearing.
“We would like to thank the sheriff’s department for all their hard work in bringing Mrs. Farias to justice,” Oakmont said.
The operator has 23 senior living communities in California, with 15 additional communities under construction or in the planning stages, according to its website. They include independent living, assisted living, memory care and continuing care retirement communities.