May 18, 2012
John Pretti Tallahassee Crime Examiner
The rip-off scheme was uncovered by a fellow co-worker and then trapped by investigators who asked a citizen, who paid a ticket in cash, to return with the receipt. The receipt was one that Ms. Pinedo-Ramos manufactured on her own as part of the swindle. When the investigators checked the electronic records, they discovered that the ticket was dismissed by Ms. Pinedo-Ramos. After questioning about the ticket, Ms. Pinedo-Ramos confessed to all 40 other dismissed tickets and to the taking of the money. Mr. Inzer stated he was aware that Ms. Pinedo-Ramos had fallen on hard times, but would not elaborate.
During the past year, Leon County and the city of Tallahassee have been embezzled by a few people from the over $650,000 by Shanna Lewis, an office manager of the city’s Innovation Park to several school officials, such as Jackie Hutto, accused of taking over $50,000 from the Leon County school system. A few months ago, two Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University Credit Union employees were caught embezzling $134,000. All these criminal acts were reported in the news and made front page headlines in the Tallahassee Democrat.
In every case, all those involved lost their jobs, are facing jail time or in jail, and will have a very bad record for future employment. Not to mention the embarrassment to employer and the families involved. In the case of Ms. Pinedo-Ramos, those hard working city and county law enforcement officers and deputies that wrote the tickets are now delighted to know that they will no longer be contributing to her illegal retirement fund.
If there are statistics of how many individuals caught in the act of embezzling versus all those that have not yet been detected, every employer/supervisor of positions of trust must take heed to establish fool-proof systems to prevent future surprises of missing funds. Opportunity and need are the two elements in this type of crime. Eliminating all the opportunities is only one part, since almost everyone has a need for more material goods. Eliminating the need means hiring honest and trustworthy people based on past history. In the case of Ms. Pinedo-Ramos experiencing “hard-times”, should have triggered a closer inspection of her processing of cash payments by her supervisor.