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Kmart sues pair in embezzling case

Ex-worker accused of altering records, taking $600,000

PROVO — A woman accused of embezzling as much as $600,000 from a Spanish Fork Kmart is now being sued by her former employers.

Kmart Corp. filed a suit against Teresa and Bradley Jex in 4th District Court in early March, alleging that during Teresa Jex's 27 years of employment as a lead office associate for Kmart's Spanish Fork store, she altered accounting records and falsified records. She was fired Jan. 12.

Jex has also been charged in 4th District Court with 20 counts of communication fraud, identity fraud and forgery. The charges are second and third-degree felonies, carrying a potential maximum penalty of one to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Kmart officials at the store on 900 Expressway Lane first noticed a problem with their records in November and began investigating.

The paper trail led to Jex who allegedly confessed to stealing between $300,000 and $400,000 over a period of six years, according to court documents. However, Kmart's investigation led them to believe the amount may be much higher, possibly even exceeding $600,000.

Jex is accused of forging Western Union Money Orders, then using her management access to cash out those orders, writing them to herself, her husband or third parties. She then altered the store records to cover her tracks, police say.

Although the civil suit lists Bradley Jex as a co-defendant, he wasn't part of the alleged embezzlement, prosecutors said.

"At the time we screened the case there was no indication that her husband had knowledge or any way participated in the criminal action," said Deputy Utah County Attorney Chad Grunander. "We didn't have any reason to pursue any criminal charges against him."

The Jex family had no comment when contacted by the Deseret Morning News Monday.

Thomas Burns, the attorney for Kmart, said he couldn't comment on the pending litigation and deferred to the information in the pages of the lawsuit.

Kmart filed the suit to get their money back — at least $600,000 — but they also want the court to order Jex to give them detailed information so they can correct their books and figure out exactly how much was stolen.

"By virtue of Jex's actions, including the use of false names, forgery, and other means to be disclosed or discovered, (Kmart) is unable to determine exactly what amount Jex may have embezzled, converted or diverted from Kmart," according to the lawsuit.

Kmart also asked the court to authorize a "freeze" on the Jex's assets, to prevent the couple from selling any property before the case is decided. That way, the company could recover restitution money from the Jex's home, cars, trailer and bank accounts if needed, according to the lawsuit.