Court action 2

A former employee at a downtown Norfolk business is facing multiple criminal charges after she allegedly outed an employer tens of thousands of dollars.

Dee Dee Yawn, 50, is facing one count of theft by deception ($5,000 or more), a Class 2A felony, and a separate charge of unauthorized use of a financial transaction device ($500-$1,500), a Class 1 misdemeanor.

The allegations were first made in the summer of 2020 by employees at Environmental Services of Norfolk and later filed by the Madison County Attorney’s Office.

It is alleged that Yawn, who served in an office management role at the business, used company credit cards to purchase about $88,000 worth of personal items between roughly July 2018 and July 2020.

Environmental Services, founded in 1996, tests and removes radon, asbestos, lead and mold, and also provides duct cleaning and bat guano cleanup.

An Environmental Services employee who wished not to be identified said suspicions arose in early 2020 when some of Yawn’s co-workers noticed questionable bookkeeping and software tampering. The business started digging deeper into records and noticed “obvious” misuse of company credit and bank accounts.

Upon what the business described as “substantial evidence of misconduct,” Yawn was terminated last fall.

The company is alleging that Yawn used company dollars for wide-ranging expenditures, including RVs, boats, vacations, a family member’s college tuition, clothing, groceries, repairs and more.

After Yawn was fired, the company said, she was asked to review statements with the company. She reportedly admitted to spending that totaled more than $88,000.

But despite the purported admissions to Environmental Services, Yawn has pleaded not guilty to the felony theft charge filed against her by the county attorney’s office last November. She also pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor financial transaction violation in county court on Tuesday.

Yawn’s misdemeanor charge was filed in July after Environmental Services found that four purchases totaling more than $838 were fraudulently charged to a company credit card on July 2. The alleged purchases were made at local stores and through PayPal.

Environmental Services contacted PayPal and discovered that the phone number on the PayPal account belonged to Yawn’s husband. According to the business, the credit card used in the July purchases hadn’t been used since November, when Yawn was fired, and was placed in a lockbox at the business.

The company suspects that Yawn had a copy of the card or that the card was still connected to an account on one of her personal electronic devices. The alleged July transactions happened while Yawn was out on bond during her pending felony case.

“She almost cost us our jobs,” the employee said of Yawn. “There are quite a few hard feelings.”

The alleged embezzlement of Environmental Services isn’t the first time Yawn has been accused of similar acts.

In 2017, a charge was filed against Yawn alleging that she wrote and cashed several checks to herself and her then boyfriend totaling $11,000 to $15,000 in 2016 while she was working for a different Norfolk business.

The bad checks were facilitated by Yawn between May and November 2016 while she was in charge of payroll and writing company checks at Classen Fabrication.

Yawn initially denied writing the phony checks but later admitted the offense to her boss, according to a 2017 probable cause affidavit. She was convicted in that incident and sentenced to probation.

The Pierce woman is represented in her district court case by Ryan Hoffman of Omaha and in her county court case by Kory Quandt of Omaha. Yawn’s next district court appearance is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 27, while her next county court appearance is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 4.

The felony theft charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, while the misdemeanor transaction charge carries a max sentence of one year of incarceration.

An Environmental Service spokesperson didn’t say whether the business was seeking restitution for its losses, but that it is “hoping for some sort of justice.”

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