La Jolla woman arrested, charged with embezzling real-estate development company


City News Service

A La Jolla woman was arrested today on suspicion of embezzling $1.49 million from a North County real-estate development company while serving as its bookkeeper over a nearly seven-year period that ended with her termination four years ago.

Financial crime detectives took 64-year-old Jennifer Davey into custody about 4 p.m. at her current workplace, a CVS pharmacy near her home, sheriff’s Sgt. Mark Varnau said.

Davey had been under investigation since early 2008, when the bookkeeper who succeeded her at Beckman Properties in Solana Beach discovered a fraudulent account the suspect allegedly had set up to funnel stolen funds from the firm, according to Varnau.

While employed as accountant and operations manager for the Lomas Santa Fe Drive business, Davey allegedly altered or forged 332 checks drawn against Beckman accounts, used company business funds to pay off her credit cards and created phony credit card statements to cover her thefts.

“In most cases, her counterfeit statements appeared superior in quality and design to the actual credit-card bills,” Varnau said.

Davey -- whose position gave her access to banking information for five business entities operated by the property development and management firm -- allegedly created a fake business account under the name Professional Advisors Unlimited and transferred the stolen funds into it.

Her employers eventually fired her over unrelated job-performance issues prior to the discovery of the purported embezzlement, which her successor began uncovering within several months of taking the bookkeeping position, the sergeant said.

Davey had been aware for several years that she was suspected in the alleged thefts, according to Varnau, who said the investigation took nearly four years to complete due to typical complexities in financial-crimes cases.

“I think we had over 30 search warrants served,” he said.

The suspect, who was detained and handcuffed inside the Eads Street drugstore where she works as a cashier, was expected to be booked into Las Colinas women’s jail in Santee this evening and held on $2 million bail.