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Ex-office manager is charged with stealing from law firm in Ozark

Court records show Kari Love now lives in Arkansas after being fired more than two years ago.

January 31, 2013|by Gene Hartley | ghartley@schurz.com

OZARK, Mo. -- A former office manager and paralegal for a law firm is accused of embezzling about $28,000 over the last 20 months that she worked there.   Kari Love, 48, who now lives in Searcy, Ark., according to online court records, was charged on Thursday with stealing, for which she could face a prison term between five and 15 years if she’s convicted.

According to the probable cause statement written by an Ozark Police detective, attorney Bruce Galloway terminated Love from her job on Sept. 2, 2010, for stealing.  Love handled the bookkeeping at the law firm, where she worked about five years.  Galloway found, after Love was fired, that some of his law firm’s bank records were missing.

Galloway asked a CPA firm to audit his company’s accounts.  The audit, which took a year, found “$28,247.15 in missing funds that appeared to be used to pay Kari Love’s personal expenses.”  Investigators believe the funds were taken between Jan. 1, 2009, and Sept. 2, 2010, according to the probable cause statement.

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Galloway filed a police report about the thefts last Feb. 7.  Two days after the police report, according to the probable cause statement, Love sent Galloway a money order for $250.  Since then, she sent nine more unsolicited cashier’s checks or money orders totaling $2,400, “with no explanation as to why Love was sending money,”  according to the detective.

With a $150 check sent last Nov. 26, according to the probable cause statement, Love sent a note to Galloway that said she would be sending $400 every month thereafter, as well as “an apology, though no explanation is given as to what she is apologizing for.”  The letter was written 10 days after the detective says he called Love on Nov. 16 to tell her that Galloway “had made a police report listing her as the suspect in the theft of money from his law firm.”

The detective wrote that he told Love he wanted to interview her.  He said she wanted to consult an attorney and would call him back.  The detective wrote that Love never called back, apparently as of last Dec. 14, the date on the probable cause statement.

A Christian County judge set a $25,000 bond for Love on Thursday.  The Christian County Sheriff's Department will have to work with law enforcement officers in Arkansas to serve Love with a warrant and get her returned to Missouri.  Love's first court appearance is not scheduled.

The probable cause statement provided to the circuit clerk's office and to the public blacks out the name of the law firm.  The office of Christian County Prosecuting Attorney Amy Fite has started blacking out the names of crime victims on all charges that it files, even though the names of crime victims are public records in other counties except in cases of sexual assaults and juveniles.  Fite wasn't available to explain why her office withholds public information.

Galloway issued a statement on Thursday afternoon.

"Businesses, professionals and even court administrators are victimized by employee theft from time to time," Galloway said.  "We believe the the justice system will assign responsibility and impose appropriate consequences in due course."

No listing was available for a telephone number for Love.

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