Edmond Police have filed embezzlement charges against former City Utility employee Tessa Seales, 45, of Edmond, according to an affidavit involving Edmond Police Det. Jason Kushmaul.
“There wasn’t an arrest made. There will be I assume once a warrant is issued or she'll turn herself into the OK County DA’s office,” said Jenny Wagnon, Edmond Police spokeswoman.
Kushmaul reported that on March 2, he was contacted by City of Edmond Finance Director Ross VanderHamm, concerning possible Embezzlement by a City of Edmond Customer utility employee.
“Mr. VanderHamm stated an employee, the defendant, opened a utility account for a customer, took a $200 cash deposit from the customer and then reported in the computer system that a deposit was not necessary, Kushmaul stated. “Mr. VanderHamm stated at no time should the defendant take money from customers.”
The proper procedure should have involved the customer taking paperwork from the defendant and then giving the deposit to the cashier, according to police. A video recorded the improper transaction, Kushmaul stated.
“The customer ended up not renting the house in Edmond and wanted her deposit back, thus prompting the investigation,” the affidavit states.
Police state the video shows the victim opening a utility account with the defendant. The victim with two relatives came into the defendant’s office and sat beside the desk, Kushmaul stated. She then placed two stacks of five $20 bills on the desk where Seales was sitting, according to the report.
“While filling out the paperwork, the defendant is observed placing a folder on top of the money. When the paperwork is completed, (The victim) leaves and the defendant places the money underneath her keyboard,” the affidavit states.
Kushmaul stated he met with the defendant March 9 at the Public Safety Center. Seales stated her responsibility is to set up new utility customer accounts.
“She advised she could take credit cards and checks from customers at her desk, but if they paid in cash, they had to go to the cashier. Seales stated at no time does she take cash from customers,” Kushmaul reported.
Kushmaul asked Seales for an explanation of the transaction Dec. 31.
Seales said she told the customer she needed to pay a $200 deposit, Kushmaul noted. Seales said the customer placed the money on the desk. Seales further stated she entered in the computer system a LOC and no deposit was required, according to Kushmaul.
“While the customer was completing the paperwork, the defendant advised she placed the folder on top of the money. After giving the customer her paperwork, the defendant stated she moved the money underneath her keyboard,” the affidavit states.
Seales told Kushmaul she had done this procedure two times, Kushmaul reported.
“I advised her that since my involvement in this case, I have discovered other suspicious transactions. The defendant then stated she cannot remember how many times she has done this type of transaction,” according to police.
Seales then estimated she had done this about 6-8 times and the amounts each time was either for $100 or $200, amounting to about $1,200, according to Kushmaul.
Seales said she planned to use the money to pay her mother’s medical bills, pay rent and keep the power turned on, Kushmaul stated.
“As the defendant left, I noticed she drove away in a 2016 Jeep Liberty with a temporary dealership paper tag,” Kushmaul noted.
Further investigation by utility customer personnel revealed 28 transactions identified Seales obtained a deposit and then deleted or canceled the deposit. The transaction amounts totaled more than $5,600, Kushmaul stated.
“Out of the 28 transactions, I determined there are 12 transactions, for a total of $2,200, in which it can be proven the defendant took the money,” Kushmaul stated. “When I interviewed these witnesses, they demonstrated an independent recollection of their transaction.
“Some of the witnesses were able to provide a detailed description of the defendant, while some were able to say the person who accepted their deposit was a white female.”
All witnesses gave the defendant cash and stated they observed her place the money next to her keyboard, Kushmaul stated. None of the witnesses said they received any of their money back from the defendant, according to police.
“Three of these transactions have a video recording available. In the videos, once the defendant received the money, she would slide the money underneath her keyboard as the customer left the office,” the affidavit states.