John “Jason” Walaskay, a 41-year-old Whitmore Lake, Michigan man stands accused of embezzling cash from a Kona coffee grower; he has been extradited to Hawaii to face charges.
According to news reports, Walaskay was arrested on August 2nd in suburban Detroit at the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club. Walaskay was appointed as comptroller of the yacht club; it was his second day in that position when he was arrested on a warrant filed with the National Crime Information Center by local authorities.
A Kona grand jury had indicted Walaskay on June 18th on several charges including five counts of second-degree theft and two counts each of first-degree theft and use of a computer in committing a second crime. Cathy Kleger, a bookkeeper at Kona’s Best Natural Coffee, said that Kona lost almost $200,000 because of the offenses allegedly committed by Walaskay, who was employed as comptroller at the company. The alleged embezzlement occurred between March of 2009 and April of 2010; news reports state that Walaskay may face as many as 75 years in prison.
On Wednesday August 29th, Walaskay pleaded not guilty to all charges before Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara. He is ordered to stand trial before Kona Circuit Judge Elizabeth Strance on October 3rd. Belinda Castillo, a Deputy Public Defender appointed to Walaskay’s case, requested that the defendant’s bail be reduced from $100,000 to $10,000. According to Castillo, Walaskay was questioned about the embezzlement issues when he lived in Hawaii several years ago, and was cooperative with police. Walaskay moved to Michigan recently after assuming that nothing became of an investigation into the allegations; he had no prior criminal history. The judge refused to lower bail, which remained at $100,000.
Joseph Fagundes III, attorney for Kona’s Best Natural Coffee, stated in news reports that payments which were supposedly being made to vendors and specific creditors were actually being made to Walaskay, and that the accused was under surveillance of federal authorities for a time.
Embezzlement is a serious criminal offense which leaves the accused facing severe penalties if convicted. Michigan criminal defense lawyers know that without capable legal representation, individuals convicted may face substantial fines, prison time and a permanent criminal record. Essentially, your career, reputation and future are at stake.
If you have been charged with embezzlement or any theft offense, contact a skilled Michigan embezzlement attorney at once.