St. George woman arrested after allegedly stealing $7K in checks from employer

Hayven Willden. Photo Courtesy: Washington County Jail

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Utah, Jan. 12, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — A St. George woman was arrested Thursday after allegedly stealing 29 checks worth more than $7,000 from her employer.

A probable cause statement from the 5th District Court of Washington County said Hayven J. Willden, 20, is facing one charge of theft, a second-degree felony and 10 counts of forgery, a third-degree felony.

The arresting officer responded on Dec. 17 to a medical business for seniors in St. George on a report of felony theft by one of their employees, Willden. The suspect was the receptionist for the business, the statement said. Her job was to open the mail, record the mail and checks received for the business, and look up patients’ information on the computer. She worked at the business from April 2019 until she was terminated in December 2019.

The CFO of the business initially reported his suspicions to St. George Police Department on Dec. 17, but wanted to investigate further before pressing charges. The CFO then reached out again on Jan. 8, 2020 and expressed he wanted to press charges against Willden for the allegedly felony theft.

The officer telephoned Willden on that day and arranged to meet about the case at her place of residence, but it was later discovered she was “hiding out” at her sister’s residence. Willden was located there and interviewed after being read her Miranda rights.

Willden admitted to stealing a check for $2,288.88 from the business and depositing it into her own account at the credit union used by the business. Willden admitted that she wrote “pay to the order of Hayven Willden” on the back of the check, and used the ATM to deposit the check.

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The suspect told the officer the business she worked for called her the next day to confront her about this since they had spoke to the credit union.

“Hayven admitted she gave the business the runaround by telling them she would pay them back, use her sister to pay them, but ultimately, she didn’t have the money in her account to pay them back because she had already used it all up on bills, clothes, and other purchases,” the statement said.

The arresting officer asked Willden if she had stolen more checks from the business. Willden said she had stolen between 30 and 40, totaling between $3,000 and $4,000. Willden said she deposited the checks in another bank account of hers. Willden described taking pictures of the front and back of the checks, then using the mobile deposit option to deposit the checks.

“Hayven told me all checks cleared and she had used all the stolen check money on other bills, clothes, food, etc,” the statement said. “Hayven logged into both her bank accounts and gave me access to look through her statements. When looking through the stolen/deposited checks on the bank account, I saw many checks that had been signed by two different individuals and the business.”

Willden admitted to forging these names and the business name on all these checks before completing their mobile deposits. The total theft was for all checks from both accounts was valued at $7,308.63. Willden stole a total of 29 checks.

She was transported to Washington County Jail but then ordered to be released with the condition of a mandatory court appearance.

The felony was committed when Willden was out on probation or parole.

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