Alpharetta firm: Jobs lost due to stolen funds

Peter DeSantis, owner of Engineered Architectural Systems in Alpharetta, recalls having to lay off workers during the most recent recession because he didn’t have the money to pay them.

DeSantis told Channel 2 Action News that the layoffs might have been avoided if he had the $250,000 a former office staffer is now accused of stealing from his firm.

Karalee Sciukas, 60, is charged with stealing the money by writing checks to herself and to a company she allegedly created to channel more of Engineered Architectural Systems’ funds to herself. A Forsyth County grand jury indicted her this month on six counts of felony theft from her former employer.

“She was intimately aware of everything that was going on, especially financially,” DeSantis told Channel 2 this week. “She was controlling all that. We trusted her.”

A woman answering the door at Sciukas’ home refused to comment. “Get off my property,” she ordered a Channel 2 reporter.

Sciukas worked for the architectural firm for six years and was its controller when the alleged thefts were first detected in 2010, employees said.

“She wrote checks to herself,” said former coworker Amy Drummond. “She cashed excessive petty cash checks on a regular basis. She wrote checks to businesses she operated under her name.” The funds were disguised as payments to vendors, the firm said.

DeSantis believes more money was stolen but said he didn’t have the resources to continue his investigation to determine the exact amount. He said Sciukas has repaid $25,000 of the money. The company is planning a civil lawsuit to recover the remaining funds.

Engineered Architectural Systems’s clients have included McDonald’s restaurant and car dealerships.

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