Macon County Chronicle

Ward Construction Employee Embezzles $40,000

The former comptroller of a western Macon County construction company has been charged with stealing approximately $40,000 from her employer in a sealed indictment returned by the Macon County Grand Jury in October.

Mary M. Woodard, 39, of 717 Days Road, Lafayette, was arrested on Saturday, Nov. 14, by Corporal Larry West of the Macon County Sheriff’s Department. She was transported to the Macon County Jail but was later released after posting a $9,500 pre-trial bond.

Woodard – who reportedly worked for Ward Construction for approximately a year and a half – was charged with one count of theft of property $10,000-$60,000, a Class C felony in Tennessee punishable by three to 15 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

According to the indictment, Woodard committed the offense of theft of property $10,000-$60,000 when she allegedly “did unlawfully and knowingly obtain or exercise control over certain property, to-wit: approximately $40,000 cash money, of the value of more than $10,000 but less than $60,000, the property of Ward Construction, with the intent to deprive Ward Construction of the property.”

The 21-count indictment – which was obtained by Detective Bill Cothron of the Macon County Sheriff’s Department and had remained under seal until her arrest – also charges Woodard with 10 counts of passing a forged instrument and 10 counts of forgery.

According to the indictment, Woodard allegedly forged and cashed 10 different checks between Dec. 31, 2008, and June 10, 2009 – ranging in value from $300 to $2,300 and drawn on two different bank accounts – and signed the names of Ward Construction owner Robert L. Ward and his wife, Shelaena.

Woodard allegedly made all 10 of the checks out to herself, according to court records.

Because five of the forged checks were for less than $1,000, five of the counts of forgery and five of the counts of passing a forged instrument are Class E felonies in Tennessee, punishable by one to six years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $3,000.

Because the five remaining forged checks were for more than $1,000, five of the counts of forgery and five of the counts of passing a forged instruments are Class D felonies in Tennessee, punishable by two to 12 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

Assistant District Attorney General Justin Harris said in a telephone interview on Wednesday, Nov. 18, that he was unable to say much – at this point – about the charges against Woodard.

“I can’t discuss it other than the fact that I can tell you that there’s an indictment out there and that she’s been charged,” Harris said.

Woodard was scheduled to be arraigned in Macon County Criminal Court on Monday, Nov. 23.