By Tony Parra
A former Eastern New Mexico University employee was arrested and charged Monday with forging her supervisor’s signature to embezzle more than $138,000 from a school account.
Tammy Jo Garcia, 32, of Portales was arrested by Portales Police on Monday morning and charged with embezzlement over $20,000, one count of tampering with evidence and 70 counts of forgery.
In the criminal complaint, Garcia is charged with forging the signature of Larry Smith, coordinator of ENMU’s assessment department, on 69 occasions from May 28, 2002, until July 6, 2004, while she was working in the office. In total, Garcia used the forgery means to embezzle and fraudulently obtain $138,314, according to the affidavit.
Garcia worked at ENMU for six years.
Ronnie Birdsong, ENMU vice president of relations, said Monday she could not comment on the case.
Garcia was released from the Roosevelt County Detention Center on Monday after posting a $30,000 bond, jail officials said. Garcia could not be reached for comment.
Garcia’s responsibilities in the assessment office included reconciling the monthly bank statements, making deposits, typing checks and other bookkeeping responsibilities. Garcia was never authorized to sign checks or any other method to withdraw money from the account, according to the affidavit.
Smith confronted Garcia regarding the embezzlement issue and Garcia resigned on July 15, according to the affidavit.
The complaint also reported Garcia admitted she used a notebook police discovered to practice Smith’s signature and created a false balance sheet on Feb. 27, 2004. The sheet showed an account balance for the department of $31,555, but the actual balance was $2,125.
The criminal complaint also states that Garcia shredded returned checks and monthly bank statements with the intent to prevent apprehension, prosecution or conviction.
An incident report from ENMU police had not been completed as of Monday afternoon.