Account clerk accused of embezzling millions

July 9, 2008 5:22:28 PM PDT
An accounting clerk for a Houston window-covering company is accused of siphoning nearly $6 million from her employer over the past four years, spending the money on designer merchandise, trips to Europe and the Bahamas, and on $100,000 worth of furniture for her house. Marcia Sinclair, who worked as an accounts receivable clerk for Gulf Coast Window Covering for 16 years, was arrested Monday and is being held in the Harris County Jail in lieu of $12 million bail, the Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday.

According to court records, the 43-year-old Sinclair deposited checks meant for the company into her own bank account.

The company had to lay off 30 people this year and has not been able to fund the employee retirement plan -- financial problems that the company president attributed in large part to Sinclair's actions.

Sinclair's attorney Earl Musick said he plans to fight the bail at a hearing in state district court scheduled for Thursday.

Sinclair apparently spent the money to fund a lavish lifestyle, building up a collection of more than 100 rings, dozens of shoes, 61 pairs of designer sunglasses, and "tons of clothes," said Bryan Vaclavik, an investigator with the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

She also racked up tabs of $250,000 at Neiman Marcus and more than $100,000 at Kuhl-Linscomb for furniture. Sinclair furnished her Houston home with televisions in every room, paintings and sculptures from Europe, and state-of-the-art exercise equipment.

Sinclair, who traveled to the Bahamas, Europe and across the United States, apparently liked to shop for clothes in London, prosecutors said.

Gulf Coast Window Covering hired an auditor after financial discrepancies came to light, court records show. Soon after the auditor began investigating, Sinclair stopped showing up to work and the accounting problems were referred to authorities.

The company has rehired four of the laid-off employees and remains solvent, said Bill Gaul, president and CEO.

Prosecutors said Sinclair was charged with the first-degree felony of theft because of the amount involved. If convicted, Sinclair could face a punishment ranging from probation to life in prison.

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