If you drive north of Ann Arbor for about five hours, you will come to the UP’s Sault Ste. Marie. The historic, waterfront town is a popular destination for summer travelers. In fact, its popularity among tourists is part of what made an embezzlement scheme successful, law enforcement officials say.
Four former hotel management employees are accused of white collar crimes that netted them about $500,000, police say. The money was allegedly embezzled from both the Ramada Plaza Hotel Ojibway in downtown Sault Ste. Marie and some of the guests who stayed there.
“You have to be an evil person to do something like this,” one of the hotel’s owners said.
Police investigators claim that the fraud began in 2015.
The four suspects are accused of initially embezzling money from a hotel account, then double- and triple-charging some hotel guests in an apparent attempt to cover their tracks.
The hotel owners said they were tipped off to the scam when credit card companies began calling with complaints. The owners then began looking closely at the hotel’s finances, finding that checkbooks did not match ledgers and that utility bills were going unpaid.
The owners told a news reporter that they spend most of their time in Arizona and that they had trusted the four former employees to run the hotel.
The suspects in the case face the very real possibility of time behind bars if they are convicted of fraud and embezzlement.
Those who are in similar situations should speak with an attorney experienced in white collar defense before speaking with police or prosecutors.