Charges: Facing Mounting Bills, Woman Stole Nearly $80,000 From Employer

Dawn Westphal, 42, faces nine felony counts of theft by swindle after police say she embezzled money while working at an Eagan business.

Dawn Westphal told police she was overwhelmed with bills and needed money to pay for her home mortgage.

Rather than asking for help, police say Westphal began embezzling money from an Eagan business, where she worked as an office manager with access to the business' ledgers.

Westphal, 42, faces nine felony counts of swindling the business, according to a criminal complaint dated May 9 by the Dakota County Attorney's office. Each count carries a maximum of 10 years in prison and $20,000 in fines.

Police say Westphal took a total of $79,945.25 from her employer during a five-year period beginning in 2006 and ending in 2011. After Westphal resigned in 2011 and moved to Minot, N.D., the company discovered extensive "irregularities" in business bank accounts that were under Westphal's care, according to the complaint. Business officials obtained bank records and learned that money from the business had been deposited in Westphal's personal account, police said.

After learning of Westphal's alleged embezzlement, the company hired an attorney and sent a letter to Westphal demanding payment. Police say Westphal responded by sending a check for $8,556.81 and told the company she would attempt to reimburse the remaining amount by making $1,100 monthly payments. Westphal allegedly told the company that if they weren't able to agree to terms that she would turn herself in to authorities, the complaint said.

When an Eagan police investigator visited Westphal's house in Minot to execute a search warrant, she allegedly greeted the officer at the door and told him she had "made a mistake."

Westphal told the officer she had become overwhelmed with bills but was too proud to ask for help, police say. She allegedly admitted to stealing, but told the investigator that she initially intended to pay the money back.


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