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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Man sentenced for embezzling more than $1 million from Spokane Valley company

A former construction firm bookkeeper and controller in Spokane Valley was sentenced this month to 90 days in jail and 12 months community service and to pay back nearly a million dollars for stealing from his employer for over a decade.

David Groller, 38, was sentenced for 11 counts of first- and second-degree theft, according to court documents filed June 16.

As the former bookkeeper and controller at Bales Construction Inc. in Spokane Valley, Groller was responsible for overseeing payroll, paying taxes, paying vendors, managing employees’ retirement funds and preparing financial reports and statements.

While in his position, Groller embezzled from the company constantly from 2011 -18. One accountant estimated that Bales lost more than $2,059,185 to Groller’s theft.

Vice President of Bales Construction Matthew Liezen said the company is back to “business as usual.”

“It was an unfortunate situation but we’re just continuing to run the business,” Liezen said.

Though the court determined the nearly million dollar amount due, evidence shows Groller’s schemes were “multilayered” and hard to untangle, making Bales Construction’s total damages a mystery, according to court documents.

Groller hid the origin of his money by shuffling it between his own accounts and a hidden Bales Construction account.

Investigators worked against missing documentation, Groller’s ability to hide money and unknown schemes and timelines, court documents say.

In late 2017 or early 2018, Bales Construction became suspicious of Groller, and Eugene Bales, owner of Bales Construction, noticed a discrepancy in his retirement account summary.

In May 2018, Groller told Bales that the company had not brought in enough money to pay for new jobs. Bales loaned the company $75,000. Bales later learned Groller had issued his father-in-law Arthur Sharpe, a senior loan officer in the mortgage lending industry in Spokane Valley, a $50,000 check, despite there being no business relationship between Sharpe and Bales.

Bales also discovered Groller had not paid the company’s taxes. He then found Groller had been using the general fund account to issue himself checks, amounting to $40,000, according to court documents.

Bales said during Groller’s employment he used company credit cards for personal use. Groller also sold equipment, including vehicles, and never deposited the money in Bales accounts.

Then Bales hired Rick Edwards, an accountant with 20 years of experience in construction accounting, to audit Groller’s financial decisions, documents say.

Edwards told police it would be nearly impossible to calculate total damages, but that they amounted to more than 2 million dollars. After Edwards’ review, Bales reported Groller to police.

Maggie Quinlan can be reached at (509) 459-5135 or at maggieq@spokesman.com.

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