HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — A former Kroger employee is accused of stealing more than $275,000 from a store and concealing the theft through various methods of accounting fraud.
Dana Williams, 29, was charged with aggregate theft.
According to Harris County Sheriff’s Office investigators, Williams, who became employed with the company in 2014, was in charge of handling the cash room dispersal for the self-service checkout points in the store.
The thefts were believed to have started in March 2016, continuing through February 2017. The alleged embezzlement came to light after she did not report to work due to an illness.
Kroger loss prevention employees began to uncover false deposits and transfers Williams was making and redirecting to cover the cash she was taking during her employment, investigators said. HCSO Financial Crimes investigators were contacted and began researching Williams’ actions.
Investigators were able to find numerous videos of Williams pocketing and concealing money as she worked.
On Jan. 3, video shows Williams removing money from a safe and placing it inside the pocket of a red hoodie. On Jan. 7, video shows Williams swiping another bundle of money from the safe and placing it in her coat pocket. Investigators said Williams was seen on video committing these crimes more than a dozen times.
Investigators said there were two mechanisms of fraud to conceal cash shortages: self-checkout machine manipulation and cash deposit manipulation. Every Sunday, accounting software would instruct the bookkeeper as to how much money to insert into the dispenser “bank” in the self-checkout machines. On some Sundays, the accounting software shows shows that an additional manual loan was conducted by Williams to the self-checkout dispensing banks, which could not have physically occurred.
[Photos: Snapshots of the arrest affidavit shows some of the transactions]
Williams’ spree came to an end on Feb 1. On that day, Williams came to work and was seen on video at 8 a.m. taking a bundle of cash out of the safe. She then left the store after complaining that she did not feel well. Williams did not return to work the next day, and when Kroger personnel contacted her home, her father told them she had to be transported to the hospital.
When Williams returned to work on Feb.6, she was confronted about the thefts. Investigators said Williams admitted to stealing the money, saying she would use it to buy pills. She estimated that the total amount stolen was less than $100,000, but investigators said the total amount taken was actually $275,920.
Williams was arrested and her bond was set at $500,000.