Ex-manager accused in payday loans embezzlement

Caroleen Padilla-Yazzie, 55, is accused of stealing nearly $30K from Check Advanced Loans in Farmington

Steve Garrison
Caroleen Padilla-Yazzie

FARMINGTON — A 55-year-old Fruitland woman was accused last week of embezzling almost $30,000 from a Farmington payday loan business.

Caroleen Padilla-Yazzie was charged Oct. 14 in Farmington Magistrate Court with embezzlement exceeding $20,000, fraud, forgery and identity theft.

Padilla-Yazzie is being represented by Farmington attorney Arlon Stoker. Stoker said he needed to review the evidence before he could comment on the case. Padilla-Yazzie has been released from the San Juan County Adult Detention Center after posting a $10,000 bond, according to court records.

Farmington police began investigating reports that nearly $30,000 was stolen from Check Advanced Loans, 423 W. Broadway St. in Farmington, on Aug. 6, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Cheryl Valdez, an area manager for the company, told a detective on Aug. 31 she believed Padilla-Yazzie, a former store manager, embezzled the funds.

Valdez said Padilla-Yazzie was fired in March 2014 after she was caught pocketing cash payments, the affidavit states. Valdez told the detective she confronted Padilla-Yazzie about the thefts, and the store manager denied it.

Valdez further said she believed Padilla-Yazzie had taken out a loan in a family member's name without that person's knowledge, according to the affidavit.

The detective met with Padilla-Yazzie on Oct. 12. Padilla-Yazzie agreed to provide a statement and initially denied stealing funds from Check Advanced Loans, but eventually admitted she pocketed one cash loan payment, according to the affidavit.

After further questioning, Padilla-Yazzie admitted she stole cash loan payments from several customers, the affidavit states.

A review of Check Advanced Loans' financial records showed $19,386 was stolen from 64 separate customer accounts during a seven-month period in 2013, according to the affidavit.

An additional $7,531 was stolen from 27 customer accounts in spring 2014, the affidavit states.

A false loan application for $1,400 was also allegedly submitted by Padilla-Yazzie during that same period, the affidavit states.

Padilla-Yazzie is expected to appear at a preliminary examination hearing on Nov. 4.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644.