A Richmond woman is facing felony charges after authorities say she embezzled more than $100,000 from the West Berkeley home renovation firm where she worked, and used company credit cards to buy things for herself without permission, according to court papers obtained by Berkeleyside.
The woman reportedly gave herself an “unauthorized pay increase,” according to court documents, and made unauthorized charges on company accounts and credit cards to pay her Sprint, Comcast and PG&E bills. Police said the woman also made down payments on her vehicle with company money.
Berkeley police investigators arrested Alexis Lawrence, 48, in mid-March after obtaining a warrant based on their investigation. The business owner initially reported his suspicions to BPD in October 2015. He said he thought his office manager — later identified as Lawrence — had taken more than $100,000 from his business accounts, and that she also used three company credit cards to make unauthorized personal purchases.
Lawrence worked at the business from September 2013 to October 2015, according to police. As office manager, she had access to company credit cards and accounts so she could charge business expenses and make work-related purchases.
“During the course of the investigation it became apparent that, in addition to embezzlement, the suspect had committed grand theft of money and obtained credit using another identification, and forgery,” said BPD spokesman Sgt. Andrew Frankel.
Lawrence also used her boss’ personal information, including his social security number, to list him without permission as a co-signer on her rental lease, police wrote in court papers.
On March 1, police sought a search warrant for Lawrence’s home in Richmond. The next day, police searched the home and found furniture purchased using the business account, a copy of her boss’ driver’s license, “receipt of fraudulent charges,” and other documents related to the case.
Berkeley investigators arrested Lawrence on March 16 and said she confessed to misusing the company credit card, forging her boss’ signature more than once, and using his personal information on her lease.
On March 20, the Alameda County district attorney’s office charged Lawrence with embezzlement over time — between April 2014 and October 2015 — and identity theft.
Lawrence initially was held on $100,000 bail but has since been released. Information regarding her upcoming hearings was not available due to technical problems with the Alameda County court website.
This story will be updated if additional information becomes available.