BRAZOS COUNTY--The owner of the Collision Research Association in College Station is out almost 80 thousand dollars. James Lock has been having a rough couple days lately. That's because the Brazos County Sheriff Department arrested his former employee Deborah Yates Thursday morning. She was released on a surety bond an hour later.
Before Thursday, Yates was Lock's secretary and book-keeper for two years.
"For some reason she felt compelled to start stealing money," Lock said.
The Friday before she was arrested on June 1, Lock found the first clue, as he calls it. There were payments that were only supposed to be paid once in a month for retirement funds, but were paid multiple times. When he looked more into it, he found checks written in Yates' name.
"So I printed those checks off," Lock said. "And I walked in her office and said, ‘What is this?' And she just looked at me. I said, ‘I'm asking you a question, what are these three checks here?' And she grabbed her purse and said, ‘I'm leaving.'"
Since august of 2011, lock says Yates took over $78,000.
"She'd sit there and look at me," Lock said. "Just like you're looking at me, right in the face with wide open eyes while she was stealing close to $10,000 a month."
Lock says Yates would take advantage of Lock being out of town so often for his job. Before he'd leave, Lock says Yates would come in beforehand and have him sign blank checks for anything like stamps or payroll. Then he says Yates would take those checks, write in the amounts, and use them for herself.
"We'd get a big check from attorneys," Yates' co-worker Nicholas Schlechte said. "And we'd say oh yeah go deposit that in my bank. To know she was physically doing that really irritated me."
Both Lock and Schlechte said they were surprised by what happened.
"It never seemed like she was doing anything illegal or shady," Schlechte said.
Lock said that not only was she taking money, but she also wasn't doing her job. He said the company would have been out of business in three or four months.
"I put 35 years of my life into this," Lock said. "It's just too much work to have someone take it away for greed."
Lock says his business has taken a big hit but he believes it will recover. He also says he will take Yates to court to get back what's his.
"I will do everything that's legally possible to recover that money now or in the future," Lock said.