A man hired to open a Beech Grove office for an Indiana-based engineering firm has been charged with stealing almost $1 million in company funds, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry announced Thursday.
Firooz Zandi, 63, faces four counts of theft for stealing almost $955,000 from his former employer, K & S Engineers Inc., Curry said.
Investigators say Highland-based K & S Engineers hired Zandi in 2006 as engineer-in-charge of its new office in Beech Grove. His assignment was to oversee the office’s day-to-day operations.
Court papers say Zandi was paid an annual salary of $140,000 during his first 18 months at the Beech Grove office, then 49 percent of the office’s profit afterward, with a minimum annual salary of $100,000.
According to charging documents, Zandi opened a business checking account in 2009, listing himself as secretary of K & S Engineers, and began conducting business through the account without the company’s knowledge.
Based on a grand jury investigator’s review of the records for the bank account, Zandi transferred $953,556 to his personal account, made $272 in purchases, and made $901 in credit card payments with company funds from 2013 to 2015.
An internal investigation began in 2014 when Zandi notified company officials that he had borrowed $53,000 in company funds but intended to repay the company.
The company said it learned Zandi had been sending invoices to clients and collecting payments without notifying the home office. The company told investigators that Zandi also falsified employee time sheets to cover his fraud.
Zandi was terminated in June 2015.
Prosecutors say Zandi told grand jury investigators that he took money from the company without authorization but paid some of it back and intended to repay the full amount.
“The allegations of this matter are yet another example of the theft which can occur when a sole ‘trusted’ employee has unfettered control over the company finances,” Curry said in written comments. “We cannot emphasize enough that businesses must have cross-check procedures in place in order to prevent misappropriation by an unsupervised employee.”
The case has been assigned to Criminal Court 6. No date has been set.
K & S Engineers, founded in 1984, offers geotechnical, environmental and construction engineering services. It also has an office in Lombard, Illinois.