Local businessman speaks on embezzlement case against former secretary

SHAFTSBURY, Vt. – A local business owner said he’s disappointed after his former secretary was arrested for allegedly embezzling thousands of dollars from his company.

Donald Latif said he hadn’t turned a profit in months because his former secretary Lisa Taber allegedly embezzled nearly $50,000 from his business, Latif Plumbing and Heating, LLC. Latif said Taber worked for him for about a year and a half and almost destroyed his business.

Latif said his plumbing business was actually doing well for the past ten months but that wasn’t reflected in his financial books. His wife Sandy decided to look at the business checking account and found several discrepancies.

“Several checks in one month that were written to her, and it was not my husband’s signature at the bottom,” she said.

Vermont State Police said Taber embezzled at least $48,155.27 from Latif’s company. They said she issued herself numerous checks for personal use but recorded those transactions as “job materials purchased.”

Taber’s alleged actions not only affected the business but also its employees. Latif said he had no choice but to lay off two of his employees.

Chad Swartz was an apprentice at the plumbing business.

“First I was surprised because I didn’t know why,” he said. “Don had called me saying he had some financial issues, and you know my mind was wandering, ‘Did I do something wrong?’”

Taber did not respond to a request for comment from NEWS10 ABC, but Sandy said she confronted Taber.

“Can you explain to me why there are these checks written to yourself and signed with Donnie’s name?” Sandy asked Taber. “And she said because ‘I was in a bad spot and didn’t know what else to do.’”

Latif said he isn’t mad but disappointed. He said he never expected to become a victim of a friend.

“I’m just a little guy in Bennington, Vermont trying to make a living,” he said. “It’s just hard to believe. I just wish it never happened.”

The Latifs said they will continue to work hard and keep their heads up as the investigation continues.

Taber is scheduled to appear in court May 19.

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