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Couple steals $19,000 from Perham employer

A Perham couple is accused of stealing more than $19,000 from their employer.

Facing several theft charges are Allen and Marianne VanWatermulen. Both of them worked at the Perham-based Pro Welding and Fabrication. The VanWatermulens are accused of altering financial records and taking advantage of company services between January and December of 2008.

Allen, 52, is charged with one count of theft; Marianne, 50, is charged with one count of theft and one count of theft by swindle.

Total damages to Pro Welding are estimated at $19,179. The figure includes missing cash and checks, unauthorized charges, hours shorted, shortage in petty cash and investigation costs.

Marianne VanWatermulen, who served as Pro Welding's bookkeeper, admitted in an interview with authorities that she wrote $1,300 worth of checks to herself and didn't pay the company back.

A Pro Welding owner noticed discrepancies in the business's financial records, according to a criminal complaint. The owner compared company and bank records and discovered deposits had never been made. He was unable to find invoices to support at least 1,300 hours of shop work that had been paid to welders. The allegations were first raised in November of 2008.

Another Pro Welding employee told authorities that Allen VanWatermulen, the shop manager, had used company materials for personal matters on company time. The employee alleged Allen had taken tubesteel from the company to build a trailer for a family member. The employee also claimed that Allen had undercharged relatives for company work, asking for $300 for a job worth $1,000, according to the complaint.

The VanWatermulens are scheduled to appear in Otter Tail County District Court Sept. 21.