An El Portal councilman is facing a number of charges for allegedly stealing tens of thousands of dollars from his law firm employer, prosecutors said Thursday.
Councilman Harold Eugene Mathis, Jr. is facing 20 counts each of forgery and uttering a forged instrument, 14 counts of grand theft, 7 counts of petty theft and one count of organized scheme to defraud, according to a news release from the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office.
The charges stem from Mathis' job as a paralegal and office manager for a Miami law firm, where one of his duties was to prepare business credit card statements for review by the firm’s attorneys and prepare checks for signing by the firm’s partners to pay ongoing financial obligations, prosecutors said.
In March of this year, with Mathis' job at the firm in serious jeopardy due to poor job performance, he quit and was allowed to go to the office to clear out his desk, prosecutors said. While he was there, a law partner noticed a law firm credit card statement among Mathis' belongings that had portions of the statement cut out, officials said.
An investigation revealed that 410 unauthorized purchases had been made, amounting to more than $22,000 in charges, fees and interest, prosecutors said. Investigators also found 20 checks worth more than $23,000 from the law firm’s business checking account were allegedly deposited into Mathis’ personal checking account between March 2017 and February 2019, officials said.
Detectives discovered that cash payments of $1,900 made by a law firm client were never deposited to the firm’s account, even though Mathis gave the client receipts for the payments, prosecutors said.
Mathis then spent the money at hotels, adult entertainment stores, and on cruises and airline tickets, according to an arrest warrant.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said the investigation into Mathis is ongoing.
“When a business is victimized by an alleged employee theft, it usually involves a breech of trust by a respected member of the business team," Fernandez Rundle said in a statement. "That perceived betrayal of personal trust is what amplifies the shock caused by the theft itself."
Mathis was booked into jail Thursday, where he remained held on $84,000 bond, records showed. Attorney information wasn't available.