Woman steals 136K from Greenwood employer

An Indianapolis woman has been charged with felony theft and fraud after police said she stole nearly $136,000 from her Greenwood employer, with much of that money being used to gamble at a central Indiana casino.

Tonia Cherry, 52, 8550 La Corrida Court, is charged with two counts of theft and a count of fraud, all Level 6 felonies. If convicted on all counts, she could face seven and a half years in jail. Police were notified in April 2018, and have spent the last year investigating the case, including talking to banks, interviewing the company owner and reviewing bank statements and video footage.

The charges stem from her time working as a secretary at Tower Service and Manufacturing in Greenwood. The incidents occurred between August 2015 and April 2018, and bank statements and surveillance videos show her using the money at a casino and liquor store, making personal credit card payments, and buying gas, food and cigarettes with a company credit card.

Cherry is accused of making 256 unauthorized ATM withdrawals totaling $77,622.82 from her employer’s bank account. She is also accused of making 88 personal credit card payments in the amount of $58,139.93, using money from a business bank account and making six unauthorized charges totaling $156.03 to a credit card registered to the owner of the company, according to a probable cause affidavit filed July 16 in Johnson County Superior Court.

The company owner reported the thefts in April 2018. The owner said he went to his bank to transfer $4,000 from a business checking account and was told that he did not have the money to cover the transfer. The last time the owner had checked the account, it had a balance of more than $50,000, court documents said.

The owner reviewed the account and found transfers into a separate business checking account, and ATM withdrawals that the owner did not authorize. Those withdrawals came from a card that was kept at Cherry’s desk. Cherry was the only employee responsible for handling the company’s checking accounts. Cherry had worked at the business for three years. Her employment was terminated once the unauthorized charges were found, according to court documents.

Police reviewed the company’s bank statements and found 88 unauthorized transfers between the two business accounts from September 2016 to February 2018. The transfers totaled $82,553.00, court documents said.

The police also found 256 ATM withdrawals totaling $77,622.82, and five transactions at Big Red Liquors totaling $480. Of the ATM withdrawals, 139 were made at Indiana Grand Racing and Casino in Shelbyville. Cherry had used her casino player card around the time the ATM withdrawals were made, court documents said.

Video footage from a Greenwood branch of Huntington Bank shows Cherry driving up to the ATM and making two separate $800 withdrawals five days apart, according to court documents.

Bank statements reviewed by police show that Cherry also made personal credit card payments from a business bank account. From August 2015 to April 2018, there were a total of 94 payments to her credit card totaling $58,139.93, court documents said.

The owner told police Cherry also used a company gas credit card. Cherry never had permission to use the card, he told them.

Gas station footage shows Cherry making multiple separate purchases for amounts ranging from $2.23 to $63.45. The transactions were for food, drinks, gas and cigarettes. The $63.45 purchase was for a carton of cigarettes, according to court documents.

Cherry was arrested Wednesday and released on $3,600 bond.

The business owner did not return a request for comment.