EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 29, 2013

Woman accused of scheme to steal $300K from hotels

By Warren Talbot

---- — WOBURN — A Lawrence woman stole more than $300,000 from two hotels where she worked as a manager by putting fake employees on the payrolls and then collecting their checks, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said yesterday.

Vilma Ajanel, 41, was arraigned yesterday in Middlesex Superior Court on eight charges of larceny over $250 and being a common and notorious thief.

In addition, Ajanel had access to large amounts of petty cash at each hotel where she worked and she used the money for personal gain including groceries and gift cards, and also wired money to Guatemala, Ryan said in a statement.

Superior Court Clerk Magistrate Michael Sullivan ordered her held on $1,000 cash bail and set conditions that she surrender her passport, not travel outside of Massachusetts and check in weekly with probation. She was ordered to return Aug. 7 for a pre-trial hearing.

“This defendant created an elaborate scheme to defraud her employer and steal hundreds of thousands of dollars for her personal use,” Ryan said. “She took advantage of her position of authority and failed to do the job for which she was hired.”

Investigators said that in 2010, Ajanel was a general manager of Residence Inn in Tewksbury, where she was responsible for and had access to hotel finances, including payroll and petty cash, and added three employees to the payroll.

“These employees were never on the schedule and were not actually working at the hotel. The fake employees would appear on the payroll and receive a paycheck. The defendant asked another person to cash the checks and that person would give all of the money to the defendant,” said the statement from Ryan’s office.

Two years later, Ajanel was transferred to the Courtyard Marriott in Billerica as general manager.

“Upon moving to the new hotel, the defendant also transferred the three fake employees to the Marriott’s payroll and continued to receive paychecks for the employees who did not exist. When another hotel employee noticed the new names on the payroll, they were removed, only to be added again by the defendant,” the statement said.

She was fired from her job in September 2012.