Former body shop manager bilked business out of thousands, police say

Former body shop manager bilked business out of thousands, police say

A Madison man is accused of bilking an auto dealership out of thousands of dollars by pocketing payments for jobs listed over Craigslist.

The Columbus Police Department said 40-year-old Richard M. Clark was charged Tuesday with one count of felony theft worth more than $10,000, one count of misdemeanor theft and five counts of felony fraudulent writings.

According to a news release, Columbus police had been investigating Clark for three weeks in connection with a reported fraud. Clark was the body shop manager at a local auto dealership but was fired Feb. 8 when management noticed irregularities in record keeping. Investigators said they found Clark was running ads on Craigslist seeking auto body repair work. He then booked the work at the dealership but didn’t run the repairs through the dealership system.

Police said Clark was manipulating the payroll system to pay employees with dealership funds for working on the Craigslist-booked jobs. Clark was paid in cash or personal checks made out to him for the work, police said.

Clark also created work orders with names and other information on them that were intentionally false, according to the report. Police were able to eventually track down some of the vehicle owners during the course of the investigation.

On Friday at 12:40 a.m., Columbus and Sun Prairie police searched Clark’s home in Sun Prairie with a warrant. Clark was taken into custody.