Former Sonics dancer accused of embezzling $255k from boss

Former Sonics dancer accused of embezzling $255k from boss »Play Video
SEATTLE -- A former dancer for the Seattle SuperSonics is accused of stealing more than a quarter million dollars from her former employer.

Pilita T. Corrales, 22, has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree theft in a series of incidents that occurred between September 2007 and April 2008. Prosecutors allege Corrales stole $255,224.18 from her former employer, Steeler, Inc., a South Seattle construction company.

Corrales is a current dancer for the Washington Stealth lacrosse team, as well as a member of the 2007-2008 SuperSonics dance team.

According to the statement of probable cause, Corrales stole the funds in piecemeal out of the company president's personal bank account while working as his administrative assistant. Corrales had access to the man's banking information as his assistant, investigators said, but was not authorized to conduct any business using the funds for personal benefit.

Corrales wrote 31 checks ranging in amounts from $2,550 and $7,000, then deposited the checks into her bank account, investigators said. She also allegedly used her employer's credit cards to make a number of purchases for herself.

Detectives obtained a list of businesses where Corrales had made purchases, which included rent ($19,222.48), Apple Online ($8,028.85), Crate and Barrel ($4,952.87), Progressive Insurance ($14,086.00), a Bellevue salon ($5,400.00), Four Seasons Resort ($14,637.11) and a local dentist ($5,000.00).

Also on the list was the University of Phoenix ($3,028.74) and the Art Institute ($2,300.75), from which she graduated with a degree in fashion marketing, according to her Washington Stealth dancer profile.

The company president's suspicion first rose when his bank alerted him about insufficient funds in his personal bank account in February 2009. The man questioned Corrales about the charges that'd been made, investigators said, but she was not able to provide a clear answer. The employer hired an outside investigator, but "due to the lack of documents, they were not able to locate any wrongdoing," the statement said.

In the following weeks, the employer posted an ad in hopes of replacing Corrales as he was "unsatisfied with Pilita Corrales' work and attendance record," detectives wrote. But before a replacement could be found, Corrales quit her job.

In her absence, the president learned he was missing his past bank statements as well as copies of checks written from his personal account. The man requested copies of the statements from the bank, which showed someone had cashed a number of checks with a forged signature. The man called Seattle police.

During the investigation, police found bank documents detailing the movement of funds from the employer's personal account to Corrales', as well as copies of 29 the forged checks. Detectives also learned Corrales had somehow added herself as an authorized user of her employer's credit cards, and the billing statement address on at least one of the accounts had been twice changed to Corrales' previous addresses.

The president of Steeler, Inc. told police he's "had to lay off employees and spent $5,000 in labor and costs in supplying documents and research time into the theft," the statement said. He added "he does not understand why she would have put him into this situation."

Corrales is due in court on Sept. 15.