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Bookkeepers charged with stealing $1M from Zirkle Fruit

RICHLAND – Two bookkeepers and nine of their family and friends have been charged with stealing almost $1 million from one of the largest apple and cherry operations in Eastern Washington.

The Tri-City Herald reported that 52-year-old Norma Garza and 38-year-old Maria Galarza allegedly organized the theft ring by giving paychecks to false employees whose names were on the payroll list although they never worked for Zirkle Fruit Co.

The women worked in the Paterson branch office of the Selah-based company.

Court documents say their yearslong scheme unraveled in November when both women were away from work on payday and a manager questioned being given 10 extra checks for non-employees.

In a statement to the newspaper, Zirkle Fruit said the company is cooperating with authorities.

Garza has been arrested in California while a warrant has been issued for Galarza’s arrest.

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