CABOT, Ark. – Karla Love has a reason to show off her family’s business.
“We’ve won several awards,” she says. “We’ve been a top 10 dealer for the last 20 years.”
You wouldn’t realize the wall of awards greeting you at Stedfast Heat and Air in Cabot that the Love family is trying to get their finances back on track.
“It’s devastating to a business,” says Love.
Authorities say for several years, Brandy Higgins, the family’s bookkeeper was allegedly writing checks for cash then recording it as vendor expenses.
Love says during this time, finances were sinking she and her husband had no idea why.
“Watching Mike age so much last year and just being sick because he couldn’t figure it out, I mean, after this happened we both had to get on anxiety medication,” says Love.
Investigators believe around $500,000 had been stolen.
Love says it nearly took them down two days before Thanksgiving last year.
“If we weren’t able to borrow that $26,000 that day, we would’ve closed our doors,” she says. “My husband had to refinance his jeep that was paid for.”
They were forced to refinance their office for $100,000 and then their home.
“He never ever wanted for work to be involved with our home and it had to be,” says Love.
The couple is now forced to delay retirement by a decade.
Love is sending a warning to other business owners before the next run to the bank.
“Don’t let anyone ever sign your checks,” says Love.
Higgins is charged with five counts of theft of property.
Her trial is scheduled for next month.
The family did not have insurance that covers employee theft but they say most policies would have only covered the first $25,000.