Saratoga: Bookkeeper charged with embezzlement, arson

SAN JOSE – A 74-year-old San Jose woman has been charged with stealing more than $1 million from her employer, as well as staging a fire and an assault on herself to cover up the crimes, prosecutors said.

Janice Carlstrom was scheduled to be arraigned Monday on charges of arson, grand theft, workers’ compensation fraud and filing a false police report, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release. If convicted, she faces up to 12 years and four months in prison.

“My office is committed to hold accountable embezzlers who abuse their positions of trust,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement.

Carlstrom worked as a bookkeeper at Pollack Investments on Big Basin Way in Saratoga for several decades. Prosecutors said she embezzled and stole the money from 2014 to 2019 – she allegedly issued checks from the investment firm to pay off her personal credit cards, her personal home loan accounts and her son’s home loan accounts.

When confronted with accounting irregularities, Carlstrom falsified injuries and set fire to her office suite on the morning of Nov. 4, 2019, prosecutors said. The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office said she told detectives she had been accosted by unknown invaders, who duct-taped her eyes and mouth closed before setting the fire.

Soon after being released from the hospital, Carlstrom filed for workers’ compensation injury benefits, prosecutors said.

The sheriff’s office at the time immediately classified the case as a suspicious circumstance rather than an assault or kidnapping, and quickly ruled out any public threat.

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Detectives went on to collect evidence indicating Carlstrom was embezzling money from her employer, the sheriff’s office said. In an interview with detectives, Carlstrom reportedly admitted to the scheme.

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Carlstrom’s injuries, which included a broken nose, were self-inflicted, prosecutors said. Evidence also reportedly showed Carlstrom herself had used an accelerant to light the blaze.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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