Wadaga trial extended

L’ANSE – The trial of a L’Anse woman accused of embezzling more than $20,000 from the auto repair shop where she was employed won’t fit in the week originally allotted for it.

The trial of Cynthia Wadaga, scheduled to last five days, could now last as long as Wednesday, attorneys said in court Thursday. Baraga County Prosecutor Joseph O’Leary said exhibits had taken longer than he had anticipated.

“Our best estimate is, we’ll be back Monday and Tuesday,” he said.

“I think we should plan for Wednesday, because I don’t think the deliberations are going to be short,” said Wadaga’s attorney, George Hyde.

O’Leary couldn’t recall being involved with any trial that had lasted longer than a week.

Wadaga, 47, handled finances for First Choice Auto Body from June 2009 to June 2011, when she was fired for allegedly taking money from the company.

Fraud examiner John Bengel, who had taken the stand Wednesday afternoon to discuss financial inconsistencies in the First Choice records, continued his testimony throughout Thursday.

Bengel presented transactions from towing and repair records that had been zeroed out on Quickbooks from Wadaga’s login.

A June 9, 2011 repair was entered as $250.00 and voided out shortly after that. Bengel said staff had confirmed the repair work had been done.

“There would be no reason to have this transaction voided from Quickbooks,” Bengel said.

On numerous occasions, $100 cash deductibles were marked as paid on invoices, but no record could be found in the Quickbooks audit report.

After the last of the 89 exhibits was introduced, Bengel then moved to deposits made to Wadaga’s checking account between June 2009 and June 2011. He read off the total cash and check deposits for each day, then the combined totals for each week. The court day ended after Bengel had read through January 2011.

The trial was scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. today with Bengel retaking the stand.

O’Leary said he would call one or two more prosecution witnesses after Bengel. He said he will rest his case either today or Monday.

Wadaga is charged with embezzling $20,000 or more but less than $50,000, a 10-year felony.