Clare woman charged with embezzlement from law firm

By Pat Maurer

Review Correspondent

A Clare woman is facing felony charges of embezzlement over $50,000 and under $100,000, a felony punishable by up to 20-years, and with using a computer to commit a crime, an up to 15-year felony.

Crystal Swartz of Clare, 35, a former employee for the Law Office of Dwight R. Carpenter, was fired last May when the investigation began.  She was arraigned in 80th District Court Thursday morning.

In a phone interview Wednesday afternoon, Carpenter said Swartz had worked at the firm for a year and a half. “We had suspected her for months,” he said. “We turned the information over to the State Police and set up a sting operation.”

Swartz was a driver and office worker at the firm. Carpenter said they discovered she had allegedly used a corporation  credit card to charge more than $15,000 in merchandise, charged cable and internet services and bought clothes for her children. He said she also forged his name and signed checks and cashed them, forged or destroyed receipts and deleted computer records to hide her actions.

She was doing this every time she was alone in the office, he said. “When we confronted her we got a full taped confession. She said she knew she would be caught.”

“The thing that really bothers me,” Carpenter said Thursday, “is that during the 17 months she worked for me, I had three major surgeries and missed 24 weeks of work. While I was recuperating she was stealing from me when my office manager was not there. My wife and I even had to put $25,000 into the business to cover expenses during that time.”

Carpenter said State Police Detective Sgt. Jerry Carter recovered deleted information from the computer Swartz used. “He did a great job,” he said.

He said Swartz even kept a separate receipt book and forged his name on receipts for checks and money that was received. “We can’t track the cash so we don’t have any idea how much of that was taken,” he said.

Carpenter said the investigation took about eight months and concluded just before Christmas. “We delayed her arrest until after the holidays for her children’s sake,” he said.

Swartz’s bond was set at $100,000 cash/surety. She remains lodged in the Clare County Jail pending transport to Isabella County, where reportedly a warrant has been issued on embezzlement charges from a physician’s office where she was employed after being fired from Carpenter’s office.