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April 24, 2014

Woman accused of embezzling more than $50,000

ELK RAPIDS — A Kewadin woman faces accusations she wrote herself inflated checks and embezzled more than $50,000 from an Elk Rapids company.

Cora Mae Crawford, 57, appeared for arraignment today in 86th District Court on a felony embezzlement charge.

Elk Rapids Police Chief Tom Emerson said Crawford’s former employers at Elk Rapids Engineering contacted his officers last year about unusual financial activity. He said investigators found evidence in reams of financial records that Crawford embezzled tens of thousands of dollars.

“I don’t know if anybody knows for sure how much was missing,” Emerson said.

Emerson said Crawford could write and sign checks on the company’s behalf. He said it appears Crawford wrote inflated checks to herself over a long period.

“Apparently, nobody had noticed that,” Emerson said.

Court documents state Crawford had an agreement with a prior plant manager that she could receive additional pay, about $100 a week, for “limited cleaning services.”

Financial records showed that 61 weeks of checks totaling more than $70,000 bore her signature as their maker, according to the documents.

“Even with payments for the additional cleaning services, the amount of the checks to Cora Crawford is in excess of $50,000,” the documents state. “Ms. Crawford did not perform services for Elk Rapids Engineering that would cause them to owe her that amount of money, and she was not authorized to write checks to herself for that amount.”

Emerson said investigators turned over to Antrim County prosecutors last spring a police report that included a large number of financial records. Prosecutors on Tuesday authorized a charge of embezzling between $50,000 and $100,000 that carries a 15-year maximum prison sentence.

Authorities on Wednesday arrested Crawford in Allegan County on a warrant. She posted a $25,000 personal recognizance bond and was released from Antrim County’s jail today.

Crawford and her family members couldn’t be reached for comment.

Representatives of Elk Rapids Engineering and its Farmington Hills-based parent company, Star Cutter, didn’t return a call for comment. Elk Rapids Engineering is located on Industrial Park Drive near Bass Lake.

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