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Jefferson Car Wash

Jefferson Car Wash.

J.L. Sousa, Register

A bookkeeper accused of stealing more than $170,000 from her employer pleaded no contest to 14 counts of embezzlement last week in Napa County Superior Court.

Katarina Francesca Peralta, 28, of Napa worked as a bookkeeper for Alta Portfolio, also known as Jefferson Car Wash, and several other companies owned by George Altamura, between March 2014 and August 2015, according to a brief prepared by the Napa County District Attorney’s Office.

After she stopped showing up for work that August, Altamura, who police said was 84 years old at the time of the incident, hired a new bookkeeper. That new bookkeeper, Shannon Eckerman of Napa, discovered that Peralta had been stealing thousands of dollars each month from the business for most of the time she had been working there, prosecutors said. The amount totaled more than $170,000.

Peralta was responsible for collecting rents, making bank deposits and posting deposits in Quickbooks.

Car wash employees would take the cash earned at the car wash and, along with associated receipts, drop it off at Wells Fargo Bank. After that, an office manager with the business would pick up the cash and receipts and bring them back to Altamura’s office, where two employees would count everything, making sure it all matched up.

The final step was Peralta’s. She was responsible for taking the cash and depositing it into the Alta Portfolio account at the bank, prosecutors said.

Eckerman discovered that, instead of putting all the cash from the car wash into the business’ Wells Fargo account, Peralta would keep part or even all of the money for herself. Occasionally she would deposit more than she was supposed to, but, according to prosecutors, it “nowhere near” made up for what was missing.

Eckerman also discovered that some QuickBooks entries had been changed.

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A warrant was issued for Peralta’s arrest Aug. 31, 2016, and she was arrested on March 15, 2017 and held in Long Beach before being transferred and booked into the Napa County jail.

Peralta, who had pleaded not guilty to the charges, was set to go to trial on Monday, but instead pleaded no contest to 14 counts of felony embezzlement last Friday. For each charge, Peralta also admitted to special allegations of aggravated white collar crime and property damage.

Her sentencing is scheduled for July 12. She is currently out on bail.

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Public Safety Reporter

Maria Sestito is the Napa Valley Register public safety reporter. She covers breaking news as well as crime and courts. Maria came to the Napa Valley Register in 2015 after working at as a reporter and photographer at The Daily News in Jacksonville, NC.