Selbyville police officers recently arrested two local women for allegedly using a credit card to steal about $37,000 from Fireplace Specialties, a Selbyville business.
After they turned themselves in, Selbyville’s officers charged Fern “Jean” Goepel, 31, of Milsboro, and Yvonne Greene, 28, of Frankford each with 54 counts of theft, unlawful use of a credit card and conspiracy.
Business representatives reported the incident after an end-of-the-year audit revealed that they were missing products.
Kevin Lynch, a co-owner of the business who reported the incident to the Selbyville police, did not return calls from the Coastal Point seeking comment.
“All they were seeing is they should have had product and it wasn’t there,” said Selbyville Police Chief W. Scott Collins. “They thought they had an inventory problem.”
According to police, Goepel — a former cashier at Fireplace Specialties who was in charge of processing credit card receipts — would charge a customer’s order at the store on the customer’s credit card, then refund it to a card owned by Greene. The items upon which the refunds were based went home with the customers who had paid for them, leaving the business’s inventory short.
According to the police report on the crime, Goepel is already on probation in Delaware for committing a similar crime at a Home Depot.
“She was responsible for all of the paperwork,” Collins said of the more recent incident. “It made it very easy for her.”
The Coastal Point could not reach Goepel before this edition went to press.
Greene, who is being represented by Tim Willard of the Georgetown law firm Fuqua and Yori, said she will plead not guilty to the charges at a preliminary hearing scheduled for next week.
“They called me and told me I had a warrant,” said Greene, who has no prior criminal history. “I’m still not understanding how they came about these charges. I steer clear of trouble. I wasn’t aware of anything until I went to the police station.”
The pair allegedly refunded 26 transactions onto Greene’s card from October of last year through Jan. 17, 2006. On Jan. 17, they allegedly refunded purchases of about $2,600 and $2,900 within two minutes of each other.
The latter was the biggest charge of the 26, and the last to go through.
“The hardest part is discovering what happened,” Collins said. “Once you find out what happened, you can put the pieces together.”
Selbyville’s officers put these pieces together by contacting the credit card agencies and finding out who owned the card that was refunded. Once they found out that it was Greene’s card, they connected the two, because Goepel and Greene had applied for a job at Fireplace Specialties at the same time, Collins said.
Both posted bond and were released pending a court date.