Trusted North Texas business woman accused of embezzlement - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Trusted North Texas business woman accused of embezzlement

Wichita Falls_Investigators say Diedre Rhines, the former office manager for the North Texas Home Builders Association, swindled the group out of more than a quarter of a million dollars over the past five years. Police say Rhine's family, including her 18-year-old son Brett Rhine, were also involved in the scheme. So far, he and his mother are the only two to be charged, but police expect more arrests to come.

The president of the North Texas Home Builders Association is refusing to comment on the matter, but court records show he and another board member went to police with evidence accusing Rhine of writing around 550 fraudulent checks while she was employed with the association.

Investigators says Rhine would make the Home Builders checks out to herself, her husband and two of her sons. Police say they would then endorse the checks and deposit them into a bank account, cash them, or pay for personal goods and services.

In all, the Home Builders Association says it was bilked out of roughly $260,000. Eddie Palamatary runs a copier sales company next to the association's office and says he's known Rhine for several years.  His reaction when he heard the news: "Oh, completely shocked. Couldn't believe it . Dee Dee was always real nice, pleasant. Never had an argument with her of any kind.  Just couldn't believe it," said Palmatary.

He says that Rhine appeared to run the day-to-day operations at the association.  In fact, investigators say she was the only paid employee who worked there.  "I thought she was making pretty good money working over there," Palamatary said.  "I just wondered what possessed her to need to get this money and what she was doing with it."

Another question on his mind was how could it take five years to realize the money was missing. Diedre and her son Brett Rhine have been formally charged with the theft of over $200,000 and engaging in organized criminal activity, since there were four people involved. 

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