Ex-bookkeeper bilks $1.3M from company, police say

Rodolfo Olivas, 46, arrested in Indialantic

By J.D. Gallop of Florida Today, Brianna Volz - Web producer

WEST MELBOURNE, Fla. - A bookkeeper for a West Melbourne company was arrested after a nearly yearlong investigation uncovered $1.3 million in fraudulent financial activity, according to police.

Rodolfo Olivas, 46, of Indialantic, was arrested on charges of fraud and theft early Thursday, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.

West Melbourne police executed a search warrant at Olivas’ home in Indialantic, gathering paperwork and going through other potential evidence.

Detectives said Friday that they arrived at the home looking for nearly 1,000 pieces of evidence, but only went through about one-fifth of it.

Olivas, who is no longer working at the company, was arrested and taken to the West Melbourne Police Department shortly after police arrived. He was turned over to the Brevard County Jail Complex in Sharpes and is expected to have bond set at $721,000, police reported.

Authorities said Olivas' first appearance before a judge was set for Friday afternoon.

Representatives at Hills, Inc. issued a statement on the incident and credited police and the state attorney's office for helping to uncover more information about the fraud.

“Hills was shocked and saddened by the nature and volume of this crime. Hills successfully managed to ensure that this crime had absolutely no effect on our services and payments to our Customers, Business Partners, and Suppliers,” the company’s statement read.

“However, Hills has always distributed a significant portion of its annual profits to our Employees, and since this crime affected our profits, Hills Employees failed to receive the maximum profit sharing they earned, and thus also became victims,” company officials stated. 

Police said that Olivas was working as a bookkeeper with Hills, Inc., a company that crafts multi-component fiber extrusion technology, when administrators came across several ‘questionable financial transactions’ in June 2017.

Olivas had worked for the company since 2001, but detectives learned that Olivas began misusing the funds in 2010.

Olivas was on vacation, but the company’s administrators got in touch with police.

Detectives subpoenaed bank and credit card records and continued a 10-month-long investigation that found approximately $1.3 million in fraudulent activity it tracked back to Olivas. He was then fired.

Detectives determined Olivas used business checks and set up multiple secret credit card and bank accounts.

Investigators said Olivas would put information into work computers under false entries when the checks were actually being made out to him.

Olivas was, for the most part, the only person who handled finances for the business, which made it easier for him to get away with using misinformation, detectives said.

Detective Donovan Brickhouse, with the Melbourne Police Department, said company officials trusted Olivas as though he was family, and that he would show up to work as he was supposed to, so they weren't able to see any red flags.

Brickhouse said Olivas used the money for personal purchases, including cruises, trips to Disney, season passes to Tampa Buccaneers games, food and alcohol.

The detective said employees were only able to see a change in Olivas' behavior because of his addictions.

"Because of his addiction with alcohol and drugs, we think he lost focus of, you know, what reality was, so to say, and just spiraled out of control," Brickhouse said. "Once he started it, he couldn't stop it."

Police also searched the home for any potentially ill-gotten goods that were possibly connected to the suspected fraud as neighbors looked on. 

"They're super quiet and don't come outside," said David Yearsley, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1975. Yearsley said there was nothing usual about the family but noted that the family received at least six to eight deliveries a day. 

Detectives said Friday that, according to the charges currently filed against him, Olivas could face a minimum of 10 years in prison. 

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