A man suspected of embezzling money from an Atascadero business has been arrested and charged with 21 felony counts related to the alleged theft.
Wes Blevins, 56, was arrested last week by the Atascadero Police Department after a four-month investigation into allegations that he stole more than $230,000 from Coast Satellite in Atascadero.
Blevins worked there as a bookkeeper for three years before he was fired in May.
Blevins used the money to pay off debts — including “horse-related matters” — and credit cards, according to a police search warrant.
The charges filed against Blevins include five counts of grand theft by embezzlement and 15 counts of forgery and counterfeiting.
In addition, he was charged with one count of threatening a witness or victim for allegedly saying he would use force and violence against the business owner, Ryan Evans.
A handful of business owners throughout the state are following the case as it proceeds — claiming to have had similar experiences with Blevins.
One such business owner, Wayne Hodges of Wayne Hodges Trailer Sales, sought charges against Blevins for embezzlement five years ago in Kern County in a criminal case.
In that 2004 case, Blevins was convicted of grand theft and sentenced to two years in prison.
Hodges describes Blevins, who worked as his bookkeeper, as “very convincing” and “real smart about what he did.”
“He created a lot of debt for me,” said Hodges.
In all, Hodges said he lost about $1 million between what he says was stolen by Blevins and what it cost him in attorney’s fees.
Hodges, who now lives in Texas where he continues to sell horse trailers, said a friend in California called to tell him about the latest case against Blevins after he read a newspaper story about it.
“I watch things a whole lot closer now,” Hodges said. “I still trust people, though. I try not to be bitter about it.”
Blevins was hired in May 2006 at Coast Satellite as a bookkeeper. He handled all bookkeeping duties, answered the phone and provided customer service.
Coast Satellite owner Ryan Evans reportedly told police that he was not aware of the alleged embezzlement until the bank contacted him when the government levied his business accounts for unpaid taxes.
Evans declined to comment on the case to The Tribune, saying he had been directed by the police to refer calls to them.
Evans told police that after checking his bank records, he found numerous discrepancies where Blevins wrote additional payroll checks to himself, voiding them in the computer system and then later cashing the forged checks.
Blevins is also suspected of pocketing cash instead of depositing it into the bank, using a separate business bank account to cover the difference and make it seem as if the money was being properly deposited.
The firm defending Blevins, Mueller and Mueller of San Luis Obispo, could not be reached for comment.
Blevins remains in County Jail with bail set at $300,000.