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Woman accused of embezzling $65,000 from Lodi Physical Therapy

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Posted: Friday, August 2, 2013 4:10 pm

A former bookkeeper accused of embezzling more than $65,000 over five years from Lodi Physical Therapy was arraigned in San Joaquin County Superior Court on Friday.

Felicia Wendy Caulfield, 48, of Stockton, faces felony charges of falsifying corporate books and grand theft over $950.

She was booked into San Joaquin County Jail on Thursday shortly after a warrant had been issued for her arrest.

Following Friday’s arraignment, Caulfield was released on her own recognizance and is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 15 for further arraignment.

Caulfield, who worked at Lodi Physical Therapy for six years, is accused of embezzling thousands of dollars in cash periodically between June 2007 and Feb. 28, 2013. However, her husband, Brian Caulfield, adamantly denies all accusations, saying cash passed through many employees’ hands.

“(The Merrills) are going to be sorry by the time we get done with them, because my wife didn’t do anything but bust her butt for them,” Brian Caulfield said. “It’s ridiculous how many hands that money went through.”

The Lodi Police Department opened an investigation on Feb. 13 when Lodi Physical Therapy owners Lauri and Monty Merrill reported that two cash payments for $1,500 and $440 were never deposited into their bank account, according to an arrest warrant.

The Merrills told police they believed Caulfield, their billing manager who was on disability leave at the time, was responsible.

It was Caulfield’s responsibility to compile receipts and deposit funds into a box containing cash. However, since 2007, several transactions were never reported, according to the arrest warrant.

A further investigation revealed that more than $60,000 was missing between 2008 and 2013, including $9,179.52 in 2010 and $22,154.90 in 2012.

Caulfield’s assistant, Cindy Blanchard, told police she never witnessed Caulfield steal any money. However, she did suspect Caulfield was stealing as early as 2011, according to the arrest warrant.

Caulfield would get upset when Blanchard would ask about issues with past billing that seemed “messed up,” Blanchard told police. In addition, only Caulfield had a key to the cash box and she refused to make a duplicate for the office manager, despite orders to do so, the arrest warrant stated.

Blanchard told police that Caulfield bragged about purchasing a new car, truck and house in 2012, when more than $22,000 went missing.

Brian Caulfield denies this accusation, saying he and his wife have lived in the same home for 16 years.

The Merrills fired Caulfield in February, but never provided a reason or said they suspected her of theft.

Within days, Caulfield’s husband, Brian Caulfield, called Lauri Merrill and threatened to sue her, according to the arrest report.

He later called back and left a message that said, “Whatever you feel is appropriate let me know, I’ll take care of it,” according to the arrest report.

On March 28, Caulfield didn’t appear for a scheduled interview at the Lodi Police Department, and then informed police she had hired an attorney.

Another investigation, conducted by Gordon Forensics & Accounting, a firm contracted through the Lodi Police Department, also revealed more than $61,000 in misappropriated assets, according to the arrest report.

Brian Caulfield said that during the time of Felicia Caulfield’s employment, employees and the Merrills would irresponsibly leave cash and checks on Felicia’s desk, free for other employees to see.

“We don’t steal from anybody,” Brian Caulfield said. “That’s not the type of people we are.”

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