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Former Bellevue employee facing 19 theft charges
A former city employee has been charged with 19 counts of second-degree theft following a police investigation that found Heather Christoff had allegedly embezzled more than $118,000 from the city before accounting irregularities were noticed by staff in November.
Heather B. Christoff, 31, is accused of using city-issued credit cards while in a supervisory role within the Bellevue Parks and Community Services Department to make charges for children's sports T-shirts to a PayPal account for a fake company she created. A 10-year city employee, Christoff resigned in mid-January. She allegedly told police she was embezzling the money to support her gambling habit.
Investigative documents filed with charges against Christoff state she used credit cards belonging to subordinates and her own supervisors issued through the city of Bellevue's Procurement Card (ProCard) Program to make 81 transactions to "mysimplet," a PayPal account she created, totaling $118,042. Police were notified about irregularities in expenses by the ProCard administrator in November going back to 2012. A search warrant served on PayPal found Christoff had changed the credit card statement associated with her account several times, with some made to look like they were associated with the legitimate company from which the city was purchasing its T-shirts. According to timelines provided by the city and the affidavit, Christoff admitted to the embezzlement six days after resigning her position.
Christoff was charged in King County Superior Court in mid-May and plead not guilty to those charges on May 29.
Police documents also allege parks employee Maria Pantig allowed Christoff to transfer payments made to her PayPal account to her bank account, which she would then withdraw for Christoff. Police report Pantig lied to detectives about profiting from the transactions, alleging she received "approximately $5,784.44 for her involvement in this criminal activity." Pantig is not currently facing charges.
Christoff was set for a scheduling hearing in court today.
The city issued a release back in March stating it would not discuss details of the investigation, but is pursuing restitution.