Alarm co. bookkeeper charged with embezzlement

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Wednesday, February 1, 2006

NEW CANAAN, Conn.--The former bookkeeper for New Canaan Alarm Company, a family-run security company well known in the area, was arrested in January and charged with embezzling $676,172 over a three-year period.
Lisa Odierno was charged with first-degree larceny and 291 counts of second-degree forgery. Both are felony crimes, according to Sgt. David Ferris of the New Canaan Police Department. Ferris said Odierno wrote checks on the security company's account to herself for cash or to pay credit card bills.
"It's definitely jail time," said Ferris, who did not have the specifics on how much time in prison Odierno may face.
Police began investigating claims that Odierno took money from the company in September after someone found discrepancies in the company's bookkeeping and a suspicious company-issued check on Odierno's desk.
According to Christian Smith, a certified public account and certified fraud examiner, there is one basic step companies can take to help prevent employees from stealing money or to catch it soon after it happens.
"The person who does the bookkeeping should not be signing checks or making deposits," said Smith, a partner at accounting firm MacDonald Page & Co., in South Portland, Maine. "You really need to keep those jobs separate."
For small companies with only one person in the accounting department, Smith recommends either the owner of the company or a responsible person at the business review unopened bank statements on a regular basis.
New Canaan Alarm Company owner Paul Cluchinski filed the complaint with police. Cluchinski declined to comment on the investigation.
Ferris said the investigation into Odierno continues, with both police and New Canaan Alarm working together on the effort. He said the company is going through an internal audit and the amount Odierno took from the company could increase.
Odierno was released on a $350,000 bond and was scheduled to appear in Norwalk Superior Court Jan. 18, after Security Systems News went to press.