Pounds: Down in the foxholeWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | firstname.lastname@example.org
Although none of us at Toledo Free Press are related by blood, we are very much a family business. With fewer than a dozen core people in the office, and the pace of the twice-a-week printing schedule, 605 Monroe St. is an intense place to work.
When one of us suffers a loss, we all grieve. When one of us reaches a milestone or records a triumph, we all celebrate. Toledo Free Press would not have lasted seven years and enjoyed its modest impact without this sense of teamwork and family. I have often said, “You’re either in the foxhole with us fighting or you’re somewhere safely off the battlefield looking at us from afar.”
The discovery that one of our family members was leading a check-cashing scheme that stole tens of thousands of dollars from Toledo Free Press LLC has been devastating and difficult to believe.
We recently discovered that a former Toledo Free Press circulation manager and a few delivery people had concocted a check-cashing scheme in which delivery routes were fabricated and Toledo Free Press was fraudulently billed for work that was not done. From as early as 2008, these people stole money from our small company, which means they stole it from the hands of all of our employees.
In addition, the same people were stealing actual product. With each delivery of 100,000-plus newspapers from our printer, there is often a pallet or more of “overages,” or extra bundles the printer sends along. Sometimes these extra newspapers are archived, sent to an event we sponsor or returned to the printer. No matter what happens to them, they are Toledo Free Press property. In addition to the check-cashing scheme, these overages were reportedly often removed from the Toledo Free Press warehouse and taken for recycling for cash that was then kept by those who were stealing from our company.
When we began to suspect what was happening, we hired an agency to investigate, film and collect evidence of the fraud. As soon as we had that evidence in hand, we terminated the employment of the suspected people and we took our case to the Lucas County Prosecutor’s Office for help. As a result of the prosecutors’ investigation, a number of indictments could be announced very soon.
The loss of money and property is of course a setback. But coming to terms with having someone we thought of as a family member be the thief is just as great a source of pain.
Toledo Free Press and its employees are the victims in this case. But thanks to the efforts of the Lucas County Prosecutors’ Office, we believe justice will be done. Some of the monetary losses may be replaced. The empty space in the foxhole never will.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at email@example.com.