Over $15,000 missing, Calif. suspect found
BRECKENRIDGE – The day Ryan Scheuermann discovered thousands of dollars missing from his business, he felt as though his life had been destroyed.His towing company was turned upside down, his wedding postponed and his ability to trust was injured.”I was pretty crushed and disappointed,” said Scheuermann, the owner of Ryan’s Recovery towing in Breckenridge. “I really believed my books and everything were being handled properly. … It was a huge let down to find out everything I had believed was a lie.”It was one year ago this month that he contacted Summit County Sheriff’s Office about the discovery. Monday morning, Trudy Pillow, 52, his secretary and dispatcher for two years, turned herself in for a arrest warrant carrying the charge of theft more than $15,000.According to the affidavit, an investigation that led detectives to believe she embezzled money by padding paychecks began 8 a.m. June 25, 2006, and shortly after Pillow fled the county. A judge signed a warrant for her arrest Oct. 5, and Sheriff’s Detective Joseph Cahill worked to track her down. Through a cooperative effort with two agencies in near her family in California – El Dorado Sheriff’s Office and Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department – he was able pressure her into turning herself in to authorities.She entered the jail in Summit County at 9:43 a.m. Monday and left the same morning after posting $10,000 bond, the Sheriff’s Office said. According to information from the District Attorney’s Office, Pillow could face four to 12 years in prison, mandatory parole of five years or a fine of $3,000 to $750,000 for the class three felony.Scheuermann met Pillow while he was working at another towing company a few years before starting his own business that is now nearly 5 years old. “I felt like she cared about the company and I tried to help her,” said Scheuermann, who even loaned her a car when she was in need.”When you start a small business you spend all your time focusing on the business,” he continued, adding that towing is a 24/7 service so he was tied up with other aspects of the business and put faith in Pillow to take care of the payroll and depositing money.Then, one day his accountant sat down with him and pointed out a few “red flags,” he said. From there, the two spent days going through the books and figuring out what was going on. “Almost every aspect of the business – she was taking money,” alleged Scheuermann.”You expect the people you care about are people that’ll care about you,” he said. Something like this “makes you doubt your beliefs. You don’t know who your friends are. … You beat yourself up for not finding out sooner, for trusting people.”Sadly, the realization came just two weeks before he and his wife, Angela Scheuermann (who was his fiancé at the time), were supposed to get married in Hawaii. Instead the event had to be postponed for a year.”Our thoughts were consumed by it. … Emotionally it really destroys you,” Angela said. “She really played on his sentiments quite a bit, and on everyone’s. … We want to get it over with and move forward. It just feels good already that she’s been caught.”Scheuermann’s advice to other business owners is to never put your trust in one person, but rather to have multiple people working as a system of checks and balances. “It may cost more, but in the end it’s worth every penny,” he said.Lory Pounder can be reached at (970) 668-4628, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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