A Petaluma bookkeeper is being accused of stealing more than $1.5 million from her Marin County employer, the largest yet in a string of embezzlement cases that have surfaced in the North Bay over the past two years.
Jodi Azevedo, 44, is suspected of siphoning funds from a San Rafael commercial real estate firm for nearly eight years by writing checks for herself and altering the books, San Rafael police said.
Police arrested Azevedo on Wednesday at her home on Casa Verde Circle. She was scheduled to be arraigned today and was being held on $1.5 million bail at the Marin County Jail.
"This woman is a born-again Christian, a Sunday school teacher, very active in her church, and she was very, very well-liked, so it was quite a shock," said her employer, Basil Plastiras, who hired her as a secretary about 16 years ago.
Azevedo worked for San Rafael-based Parkway Properties Investment Corp., and its parent company, Plastiras and Terrizzi.
Azevedo moved up within the company, which has 11 employees, working as a paralegal, office manager and eventually as bookkeeper and property manager.
"Jodi has been here, except for my law partner, longer than anybody," Plastiras said.
Plastiras discovered inaccuracies in the company's financial ledgers in early September and called police after a forensic accountant uncovered the alleged scheme, he said.
He confronted Azevedo on Sept. 10.
"She had work done at her house, work done on her grandmother's house," Plastiras said. "The day after I confronted her, she left town."