Not With My Money,|Boss Tells Accountant

     HOUSTON (CN) – An accountant embezzled $824,000 and spent it on a house and charity events to promote her own business, her former employer claims in court.
     A judge on Thursday granted Premier Tank Truck Service’s request for a restraining order against Iriel Claudia Franklin and her company Get Fit or Get Fat, freezing her assets.
     Premier Tank sued Franklin and her company on Wednesday in Harris County Court. It claims that Franklin wasted no time after it hired her in May 2012, but set straight to embezzling, “writing herself checks, all in amounts of less than $10,000” and forging the president’s signature on them.
     She used the company’s accounting software to show the checks were made out to vendors and deposited by them, Premier Tank says.
     It claims Franklin embezzled for 39 months, until it caught her a week ago, on Aug. 22, when she “admitted to the theft of the funds,” and it fired her.
     “Defendant stole at least $824,282.56 and plaintiff is continuing to uncover more transactions,” the complaint states.
     The Houston-based oil service company, which still listed Franklin as head of accounts payable on its website Friday morning, says she started her business with its money and made a splash on Houston’s charity circuit.
     “Get Fit or Get Fat LLC has sponsored numerous high-profile charity events in Houston, including a two-year anniversary party at Hermann Park featuring ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’, Cynthia Bailey, as guest speaker,” the lawsuit states.
     The event celebrated marked Get Fit or Get Fat’s “2nd Annual Day of Wellness” and featured a fashion show of the company’s workout gear, according to Houston marketing firm d-mars.com.
     Get Fit sells T-shirts, tanks and leggings for $15 to $20 on its website, which also has recipes and a letter from Franklin about why she started the business.
     Next to pictures of Franklin that show her transformation from chubby to muscular, the autobiography begins: “Ever since I can remember, I’ve struggled with my weight. I was the big girl with the pretty face.”
     Franklin describes how her father’s fatal heart attack motivated her to get healthy, and she began to shed the pounds when she tried a juice fast recommended by a friend. “I’ve learned that, with the knowledge I know now, I can use that to help others, and that’s my goal, & the reason for starting Get Fit or Get Fat,” Franklin wrote.
     The public relations firm listed as Get Fit’s media contact did not respond to a request for comment about the lawsuit, in which Premier Tank claims Franklin also bought a house in suburban Houston with its money.
     Premier Tank wants its money back, and damages for conversion, theft and unjust enrichment.
     “In her confession, defendant Franklin identified at least two bank accounts where the money was placed,” the complaint states.
     The restraining order prevents Franklin from moving money from those accounts, concealing assets or selling real estate.
     Premier Tank is represented by Patrick Scott with the Ammons Law Firm.

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