Image shows a check that was issued to Douglas Wold, now evidence in a fraud case. Court records say nearly $62,000 in fraudulent checks were issued from May through Aug. 19, including some employees "who had never existed," according to an affidavit.
ONTARIO–With a box of payroll checks totaling $23,065 in his Ford Expedition, Doug Wold was headed back to Fry Foods in Ontario about midday on Wednesday, Aug. 19.
Wold, human resources manager for Fry Foods, had just picked up the checks from an Ontario accounting firm when he was stopped by a sheriff’s deputy, according to an affidavit supporting a search warrant.
“Douglas chose not to talk to me at that time,” the deputy reported, according to the affidavit.
Wold was arrested and subsequently indicted on 19 counts of aggravated theft, identity theft and forgery in Malheur County Circuit Court. Wold, 48, of Meridian, is scheduled to plead to the charges on Dec. 2. He was released on bail.
The affidavit and supporting documents obtained by the Enterprise detail how Fry Foods detected the paycheck fraud and how the police investigation unfolded.
Wold has felony convictions dating to 1991 and was on parole for Idaho charges when he was employed by Fry Foods in June 2019. Wold said in a recent email to the Enterprise that he couldn’t comment on the matter. Company officials also have declined interview requests.
The investigation into Wold was triggered in part after Fry Foods paid a $39,995 invoice for what it thought was Covid testing for employees at its Ontario plant. The check was issued to a company called Hala Lallo Health, whose mailing address turned out to be a mailbox service in Meridian. According to the police report, the company discovered that Wold was linked to Hala Lallo. The company’s name was that of a former Fry Foods employee, according to the affidavit.
“After Fry Foods’ executive staff made this discovery, they continued reviewing the work Douglas had been doing since May 2020 and found that numerous checks had been generated for employees who were no longer employed with the company and for employees who had never existed,” the report said.
An accounting identified nearly $62,000 in fraudulent checks issued from May through Aug. 19, the report said.
The affidavit said Fry Foods “learned that there may be a problem with employee Douglas Wold via an anonymous tip” and that “after a brief background search on Google they learned that Douglas is a felon from Idaho.”
An attorney representing Fry Foods contacted Meridian police on Aug. 11, which in turn contacted the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office three days later.
Deputy Danny Perkins Sr. of the sheriff’s office said in his affidavit that Fry Foods executives met with him on Aug. 17, explaining how it appeared that Wold began issuing the fraudulent checks around May 20, when Nichols Accounting of Ontario changed its software. Wold advised the firm to not include a check itemization in its invoice and to email the invoice to him personally.
“Douglas tried to take over the Weiser payroll too, but this position was already filled,” the affidavit said.
A STRUCTURED PLAN
According to the affidavit, Wold would email a spreadsheet to Nichols Accounting listing employees and their pay. He would later personally pick up the checks, removing the fraudulent checks and later depositing them into accounts at an Idaho bank, the affidavit said.
Fry Foods officials told Meridian police on Aug. 14 they intended to keep Wold employed while the investigation proceeded “for fear Douglas may delete, falsify or conceal records.”
Perkins stopped Wold after he left Nichols Accounting with the latest batch of paychecks for Fry Foods.
A search of Wold’s Expedition turned up paychecks for “fictitious/past employees,” and “fake” paychecks, including checks issued to Wold’s three sons.
Police also found one envelope with $4,187 in cash and a second envelope with 22 $100 bills.
Fry Foods officials have provided no explanation for the circumstances of Wold’s employment in 2019.
A review of court documents and interviews showed that Wold had the first of his felony convictions in 1991 at age 19 for second-degree theft.
In 1993, he was convicted in Moscow of resisting police and attempting to elude police, receiving probation.
Wold was convicted of fraud and forgery in two separate cases in Coeur d’Alene. He was sentenced to a year in state prison on the forgery charge, credited with 262 days already served, court records show. He would owe more than $4,000 in restitution more than a decade later.
He was put on probation following convictions of forgery and grand theft in 1996.
Wold found success as a real estate appraiser in Idaho, obtaining his license in 2005.
But in December 2007, he set fire to his office, suffering burns from a gasoline explosion.
He was charged with arson and two counts of insurance fraud, but negotiated a plea deal to have the latter two charges dropped. Ada County District Judge Thomas Neville imposed a 20-year prison sentence but suspended it and ordered him to repay two insurance companies $134,000.
In 2012, Wold was arrested for stealing boat motors and subsequently pleaded guilty to four counts of grand theft and was ordered to pay more than $13,000 in restitution. He was sentenced to prison and was released on parole in 2016.
News tip? Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian by email at [email protected] or call 503-929-3053.
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