2017-10-19 / Courts

Flaskas win hollow victory in court; ‘we’ll never get everything back’

By Patti Brandt Burgess
Of The Enterprise staff

An Empire woman who is currently serving time on a conviction of embezzlement has been ordered to pay nearly $900,000 to Leelanau Redi-Mix, the Maple City company from which she stole hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“The bottom line is that we’ll never get everything back,” said Rob Flaska, who took over as chief financial officer for Redi-Mix after the embezzlement came to light. “But we’re pretty satisfied with what John (Grogan) was able to get.”

Carolyn D. Taylor, 52, has agreed to pay Leelanau Redi-Mix $884,546 in the settlement of a civil lawsuit reached last week.

Marilyn and Charles Flaska, who own the company, filed suit in February seeking $1.6 million plus court and attorney fees.

After being sentenced in September, Taylor is serving a 2-1/2 to 20-year sentence at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti. Her earliest release date is May 2020.

Taylor was also ordered to pay $815,000 in restitution. The civil settlement does not add to that restitution, but offers the company another means to making sure the restitution is paid.

Rob Flaska is the son of Marilyn and Charles Flaska. He said the company now has safeguards in place “so something like this won’t happen again.”

Flaska said his parents are shaken by what happened.

“This has been a real struggle for them,” Flaska said. “My mom especially because she was so involved with running the company and other family members feel a sense of responsibility and pain for what happened.

“Now it’s time to get some sort of payback for what happened and move on.”

John Grogan is the Traverse City attorney that represented the Flaskas in the lawsuit.

“The one thing that will live with me forever is that somebody close to the family in a position of great trust took advantage of older vulnerable people,” Grogan said.

Formerly of 13745 S. Armstrong Lake Road in Empire, Taylor was arrested in March on suspicion that she embezzled more than $100,000 from Redi-Mix, where she had worked as a bookkeeper and accountant for about 10 years. She had been embezzling money from the company for about six years.

The Flaskas filed a criminal complaint with the Leelanau County Sheriff’s Office in July 2016, telling detectives they suspected money was being taken from the company.

An investigation showed that the money was used as a down payment on a house, car repairs, credit cards, utilities, entertainment, vacations and a volleyball league that Taylor coached.

Investigations also showed that Taylor put her daughters on the Redi- Mix payroll and paid them thousands of dollars, though they never worked there.

Those daughters, Jennifer Clark and Brooke Taylor, were originally named in the lawsuit but claims against them were dismissed under the terms of the settlement, Grogan said. At her sentencing, Taylor said that after she serves her time she plans to set up a payment plan to repay the Flaskas.

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