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Local asphalt supplier alleges he’s victim of high-dollar scam

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By Gene Sears

Allen Hillje, owner of Allen’s Asphalt in Brighton, knows that identity theft is a big problem for business these days, as more information transits the Internet and unscrupulous characters find new and better means of stealing information. What Hillje didn’t expect was to be ripped off by an employee entrusted with his company’s funds.

“I am out 100 grand,” Hilllje said. “That’s basically what it comes down to.”

Hillje’s tale of woe began in February of 2007 with the hiring of Amanda Pusateri, a bookkeeper he located via Adams County Employment Services. For the first six months, things seemed normal. Then inconsistencies began appearing in the books, inconsistencies involving large sums of money.

According to Hillje, Pusateri allegedly forged checks and electronically transferred funds to a series of personal bank accounts totaling in excess of $100,000.

“This is just one piece of the puzzle,” Hillje said. “What she did in my business was electronic funds transfers out of my account to pay personal bills. She incorporated her utility bills with my business bills. She would change the checks. When the statements came in she would shrink down and retype the checks, and recreate the bank statements.”

Hillje discovered the discrepancies after bringing in an outside accountant, who could not reconcile the statements with the company books.

“It kept the books in a constant state of suspense,” Hillje said. “Finally, we went to the bank, and got copies directly from the bank to find out.”

Those statements detailed an extravagant life lived on the company dollar, according to Hillje.

“She got a boob job, she went on a cruise, she bought a Harley, she bought an SUV,” Hillje said. “The list goes on and on. Furniture, a security system for her home. It ended when she was arrested at my office July 18 of this year.”

Hillje also suspects Pusateri of involving his business, and his reputation, in an earlier scam involving an additional 23 businesses in Fort Lupton, a story first published in The Fort Lupton Press. (Take the Money and Run: Local merchants cite sting, Sept. 10)

“Joe Laredo, the owner of Los Alamos, called and said that someone came over with all my information at the same time I was trying to figure out what was going on with my business, and I said, ‘Joe, send me what you’ve got.’” Hillje said.

“In the meantime, your article came out that explained how 23 businesses were victims. Laredo said that he (Francis “Rusty” Behenna, implicated in the earlier scam) had all of my information, credit cards, copies of my driver’s license, all of it, copies of things that I keep in the office that is all confidential,” Hillje said, explaining that these were items that Pusateri had ready and confidential access to.

As of late last week, authorities had not located Behenna, and there is some question as to whether that’s his real name.

“He was using my good name in Brighton and Fort Lupton to schmooze some of these business into believing I was a supporter of his, to get his scam going.”

Pusateri acknowledged working for Allen’s Asphalt during the time in question but rejected the allegations of impropriety during her tenure. According to Pusateri, rather than leaving Hillje’s employment due to her arrest, she left over Hillje’s alleged attempts to coerce her into forging documents for an upcoming court case surrounding aggregate supplier LaFarge Industries.

Adams County District Attorney Cynthia Kowert confirmed that there were multiple charges pending against Pusateri in Adams County. Her first court appearance is set for Dec. 8.

Contact MetroWest Staff Writer Gene Sears at 303-659-2522 Ext.217, or e-mail gsears@metrowestnewspapers.com. Alternately, you can send comments to Gene via his blog, fortlupton.blogspot.com.