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April 20, 2017 05:59 PM

Employee Charged With Forgery Admits to Gambling Addiction

Sioux Falls

It's a story that has many twists and turns. 

Our KELOLAND News investigation into fraud perpetrated against a Sioux Falls business to the tune of $300,000, also found that one of its employees had a history of forgery and grand theft. 

KELOLAND Investigates first brought you the story of what happened to Fireplace Professionals in Sioux Falls and all of the big checks cashed on its accounts in Dallas, Texas, signed with the name of a woman who was just sentenced last month to 60 years in prison for murder

Now one of the businesses former employees is charged with altering much smaller checks. 

Cody George pleaded guilty in 2013 to forging a signature to deceive Vern Eide Motors. He was ordered to get counseling and to stay out of casinos during his probation.

Now he's back in court accused of stealing from his former employer Fireplace Professionals and one of its customers.

Angela Kennecke: Fireplace Professionals trusted you; did you alter those checks? Cody George: Nope.
Kennecke: You didn't alter them?
George: Nope.  No; no comment.  

George is accused of altering a $323 check from Fireplace Professionals to $1,323.  He's also accused of changing a customer's check to service a fireplace from $60 to $600. While he didn't want to talk about specifics of the case, he was willing to admit he had a gambling problem. 

George: If you want to talk about something more important you talk about abuse; alcohol abuse, gambling abuse.
Kennecke: Do you have a gambling problem?
George: Yes.
Kennecke: You do have a gambling addiction?
George: Yes.
Kennecke: And is that the reason for your prior conviction?
George: Correct.
Kennecke:  And did you alter checks…
George: No.
Kennecke: To get money for the gambling addiction, in this case?
George: No.  

Fireplace Professionals owner Tony Leggett says the problems at his business coincide with hiring George.  First there was Ransomware on his computer system and then hundreds of thousands of bogus checks written on the business' account were cashed in Dallas.

Did you have anything to do with the account information getting out and all the fraud happening to the business?
George: No, not at all, not at all. I have no idea about that.
Angela Kennecke: Do you know how it happened?
George: Nope, I just heard it was Ransomware; some lady down in Texas.  

He's talking about the woman who supposedly signed all of Fireplace Professionals' checks in Dallas.  She was recently sentenced to 60 years in prison for murder for  injecting a woman in the buttocks with industrial-grade silicone at a hair salon.  Investigators don't know if she actually cashed the checks or if just her name was used. 

George told KELOLAND News he had inpatient treatment for 30 days for his gambling addition in January.  He says he continues to attend meetings and get regular treatment for it.  We'll keep you posted on what happens with his case.

If you have an investigative story you'd like us to look into, please contact Angela Kennecke on Facebook or Twitter. 

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