Bellevue, WA - Long-time Bellevue Parks and Community Services employee Heather Christoff has resigned her position as recreation program coordinator while the Bellevue Police Department investigates to see whether she stole more than $117,000 to fund her gambling habit.
According to documents just filed in King County Superior Court, an analyst in the City of Bellevue’s Finance Department noticed in late 2013 that a number of Parks and Community Services receipts weren’t adding up and that a large amount of money was being paid to "My Simple T-Shirts" or “My Simple T.” Between June 2012 and October 2013, various Bellevue Parks employees authorized $117,410.19 in payments to "My Simple T-Shirts" and "My Simple T" for soccer, basketball and other youth sports uniforms. According to court documents, investigators with the Bellevue Police Department soon learned that all purchases were approved by Christoff. Further investigation revealed that the companies don’t even exist, the document said.
During questioning at police headquarters in January, Christoff, a 10-year veteran of the parks department, admitted she "created the business to embezzle money from the City of Bellevue." The court documents said that Christoff also confessed "she stole the money because she was experiencing financial difficulties" which were "a direct result of her gambling addiction."
Neither the Police Department nor the city of Bellevue would agree to an interview with KIRO 7. But late Wednesday, City Manager Brad Miyake emailed the following statement to KIRO 7 Reporter Amy Clancy: “We can confirm that there is an ongoing criminal investigation involving a former city employee for alleged theft of public funds that occurred between June 2012 and October 2013. The individual resigned on Jan. 16, 2014. Given that this is an ongoing criminal investigation we are unable to confirm any additional details at this time. We take our responsibility of protecting the taxpayers’ money very seriously and that is why we are actively pursuing the criminal investigation and restitution from the former employee.”
When reached at her Kirkland home, Christoff had no comment.