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Accountant faces more theft charges

Investigators look at funds transfers

POSTED: October 26, 2008 5:03 a.m.

A Dawson County accountant arrested over the summer on a single theft charge was arrested again Tuesday and now faces nine more related charges.

  

Warren Pennington, 59, owner of Warren Pennington CPA, was charged with nine counts of theft by conversion Tuesday morning in the midst of an ongoing investigation into his firm’s accounting practices, according to warrants signed Monday by Magistrate Judge Lisa Thurmond.

  

Pennington is accused of funneling money from client accounts to make payments to his personal and business accounts. 

  

Transaction dates for the alleged conversions date back to Dec. 20, 2005, and continue through March 26, 2006, totaling more than $40,000, according to the warrants.

  

Dawson County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Tony Wooten said the transferred money was intended to pay payroll taxes to the Internal Revenue Service.

  

Though the sheriff’s office did not release the names of Pennington’s clients, Wooten said the ongoing investigation has turned up several.

  

“Several victims were told by the IRS that they owe money. The clients had set funds aside in these accounts for Pennington’s firm to pay the IRS,” Wooten said.

Warrants say Pennington applied funds designated to pay client tax liabilities to his automobile insurance, several mortgage payments, a loan payment to Chestatee State Bank and credit card payments.

  

He also allegedly diverted funds totaling $12,000 on Feb. 16, 2006 into an operating account for his CPA firm and $11,511 on March 22, 2006 into the firm’s operating account and an account identified as Favorable Exchange Account.

  

Pennington was in custody of the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office early Tuesday. Bond had not been set.

  

Pennington’s arrest came a day short of three months since his initial arrest when he was accused of stealing more than $60,000 from a client’s escrow account set up as a tax shelter. 

  

In July, Pennington’s former office manager was also arrested on charges that she allegedly stole funds from clients at the accounting firm. Pennington filed a complaint with the sheriff’s office over funds missing from a client’s payroll account in May.

  

A two-month investigation led to the arrest of Vivian Miles, 44, of Dahlonega, on 22 counts of computer theft.

  

Miles allegedly redirected clients’ funds designated to pay payroll taxes to the Internal Revenue Service into the accounts of three acquaintances.

  

Evidence collected during the course of the initial investigation led Dawson County Investigator Don Kimbel, the department’s white collar crimes specialist, to think Pennington had also taken money from a separate client’s escrow account without the client’s knowledge, Wooten said.

  

The investigation is ongoing and “additional charges are also possible,” Wooten said.

  

E-mail Michele Hester at michele@dawsonnews.com.

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