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Ex-Kmart employee faces embezzlement charges

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PROVO — Twenty felony charges have been filed against a former Kmart employee accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Spanish Fork store.

Terri Jex, 49, from Spanish Fork, was charged Tuesday in 4th District Court with 10 counts of communication fraud, a second-degree felony, and five counts of identity fraud. One of those counts is listed as a second-degree felony and the others are third-degree felonies.

The remaining five charges are third-degree felonies of forgery, said deputy Utah County attorney Chad Grunander.

The 20 charges against Jex stem from incidents police say occurred between January 2006 and November 2006.

"The investigation is ongoing and we would expect to receive additional information and more documents," Grunander said. "We reserve the right to amend the information to add additional charges (based on) conduct preceding January 2006."

Jex is accused of siphoning hundreds of thousands of dollars away from Kmart coffers into her own pocket, as well as the pockets of her creditors, by doctoring money orders and changing store records.

The alleged embezzling continued until Kmart officials noticed financial discrepancies in early January and conducted an internal investigation, said Kim Freely, spokesperson for Sears Holdings, a merger of Sears and Kmart. Jex had worked at the Spanish Fork store on 900 E. Expressway Lane for 26 years.

Attempts to reach Jex were unsuccessful.

Spanish Fork Police received reports from Kmart officials that as much as $500,000 was missing from the store, although the woman only allegedly confessed to taking close to $400,000, said Spanish Fork Police Sgt. Brandon Anderson.

Grunander could not comment on amounts, but said that based on state code, there had to be fraud in excess of $5,000 to charge someone with a second-degree felony of communication fraud.

A second-degree felony carries the potential of one to 15 years in prison, and a third-degree felony has a punishment range of zero to five years in prison.

Jex has not been arrested and will be served with a summons to answer the charges in court. A court date has not yet been set.

E-mail: sisraelsen@desnews.com