DENVER - When Cheryl Pemberton retired, she sent a voided check to PERA to apply for Direct Deposit. She thought she could trust the employee assigned to process the request.
But, Pemberton learned the hard way that you can’t always trust people handling your paperwork at PERA.
Court documents obtained by 7NEWS show that a now former employee, Jessica Diane Pace, stole “voided” checks from 10 people.
Pemberton learned that she was one of the victims when she received a phone call from the PERA legal counsel.
“He said they went to Pace’s cubicle and found my torn up check in her recycle bin,” she said. “They pieced it back together.”
Pemberton said she was surprised at what they discovered.
“She used white out on the word VOID,” Pemberton said, “and then wrote the check out to herself.”
PERA’s internal investigation that Pace stole several retirees’ “voided” checks by removing the checks from the retiree’s Direct Deposit form, and replacing the original check with a photocopy.
Pace’s arrest affidavit states that she admitted in January to stealing checks totaling $4,700. It also states that since March 10, four additional checks totaling $1,350 were deposited into Pace’s own account via mobile deposit.
“She wrote it to Jessica, signed it Jessica and endorsed it Jessica,” Pemberton said. “My question is how do you cash a check with no last name? Obviously there aren’t enough checks and balances (with mobile deposit) yet.”
Pemberton told 7NEWS that this type of fraud could have been avoided if members had been allowed to apply for Direct Deposit online.
“When I got the phone call (from legal counsel,) he wanted me to send another “voided” check. I said, ‘I don’t think so. We’re going to do this online now.’ We were able to do it online after that.”
Pace, who has a previous arrest for burglary, has now been charged with computer crime, forgery, fraud and theft.
She is due back in court April 10.