For seven years, an office manager at the Juneau Bone and Joint Center did a lot more than restock on pens and legal pads with the business credit card — she cremated her cat, went to a Tim McGraw concert and booked 48 flights, prosecutors say.
Christena A. Leamer, 43, is facing one felony theft charge for reportedly using a business credit card issued in her name to make personal purchases that totalled $514,371.76, beginning in September 2007 and ending with her departure from the company in October 2014.
“I guess I used it by mistake and it got out of hand,” Leamer reportedly told her employers after they questioned her about the purchases, according to charging court documents. “I can’t explain why.”
The charging document filed by Juneau District Attorney James Scott on Aug. 17 alleges that Leamer began embezzling money just one month after she started her job in August 2007. She was responsible for processing payroll and purchasing office and medical supplies for the musculoskeletal care center using the business credit card.
Management didn’t realize what was happening until Leamer left the company and a new office manager, Joseph Powers, took over in 2015. He found several “inconsistencies” with the accounts, DA Scott reported in the charging document. JBJC management told a Juneau Police Department detective that when they asked Leamer what happened, she initially said she always left the company card in her desk and if there were fraudulent charges, it must have been because someone else made them.
The owners of the business hired a forensic certified public accountant from the Ketchikan firm Milner, Howard, and Palmer to help them add up the damage. The accountant discovered that Leamer paid herself unauthorized wages under the guise of cashing in on vacation leave, on top of collecting her normal salary.
She allegedly did this until her last day of employment, Oct. 16, 2015, the forensic accounting report Scott quoted in his charging document revealed.
“(The company) is shocked and saddened to learn that our previous office manager has admitted to embezzlement of funds from our business,” Powers said in a phone interview Friday. “When a crime like this occurs, it has a profound impact on all.”
According to the accounting report Scott quotes in the charging document, Leamer allegedly spent most of the business funds on fuel, utilities and phone payments ($80,087.39); groceries and liquor ($76,672.44); and entertainment or travel ($36,832.71). Trips to Portland, Las Vegas, Los Angeles (to visit Disneyland and see Tim McGraw in concert), Hawaii and Seattle (where she saw P!nk in concert and watched a Seahawks game) were also charged to the card.
The airline tickets were for Leamer, her parents and a brother-in-law, according to the 500-page accounting report cited by the DA. Several shopping sprees, restaurant bills and veterinary fees were paid for with JBJC funds, too.
Powers said JBJC owners and employees are trying to stay focused on their patient care as they move past this legal issue. Something like this has never happened at JBJC before, Powers said, adding that the case “reads like some kind of book” with all the charges Leamer allegedly made.
Leamer could not be contacted by the end of the business day on Friday for comment.
Court records online show she was scheduled to appear in Juneau District Court for an arraignment on Thursday.
• Contact reporter Paula Ann Solis at 523-2272 or email@example.com.
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