Fawley Overhead Door, a small family-owned garage door business based in Portage, Michigan, has a story that could convince many small businesses to run background checks on their employees. The company, run locally by a husband and wife duo, hired a woman in 2011, believing her to be the "perfect employee." She was kind, wholesome, friendly, and trustworthy, and was an ideal hire for a local family business looking to build relationships with community residents. Or, in any case, that was the facade the woman was presenting at the time she was hired. It was such a convincing performance that the owners of Fawley Overhead Door gave her a job as office manager without even asking for a background check. Suffice to say that the Michigan-based company won't be making a mistake like that one again.
Over the course of two years, the office manager used fraudulent checks to embezzle a small fortune from Fawley Overhead Door, $118,921, to be exact. After pleading guilty to two different embezzlement charges in January of this year, the woman was officially convicted and sentenced for her crimes on April 27th. She will face concurrent prison sentences for the offenses, one between 30 months and 15 years in length, and one between two and five years. Per court decision, the woman will serve a minimum of 38 months of prison time.
The case shows how important it is for all businesses to run background checks, especially for positions that involve the handling of finances. A background check could have revealed to the owners of Fawley Overhead Door that their so-called "perfect employee" was a repeat criminal offender, with past convictions for financial crimes that included attempted embezzlement and counterfeit uttering and publishing. One 2002 offense was even prosecuted in Kalamazoo County, the same county in which Fawley Overhead Door is located, and all of the charges were filed at Michigan courts. A 2006 conviction, for failing to make child support payments, was also on the woman's record. Bottom line? A thorough search of local county court records, as well as state criminal databases, could have uncovered each of these convictions.
Luckily, Fawley Overhead Door has been able to survive the financial hardship, thanks to a successful 2014. The court also ordered the company's ex-office manager to pay back every dollar she embezzled in restitution. Still, the business has vowed to review its policies, correct oversights,including the lack of background checks, going forward.