Woman Accused of Stealing Thousands of Dollars from Sick Business Partner

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STOCKTON -- Domo’s sushi, Podesto’s grocery store, Victoria’s Secret and Lane Bryant just some of the stores investigators with the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office say Sandra Marchman spent hundreds of dollars at; money they claim she stole from a very ill and elderly man.

“He almost died and he recovered enough to ask what was going on and then the bank notified him of that the credit card was maxed out and delinquent,” Deputy District Attorney Stephen Taylor said.

On Tuesday, the former real estate professional turned jail inmate, showed up in a San Joaquin County courtroom. Her lawyer asked that Marchman be released on her own recognizance but the judge denied the request.

Marchman is suspected of stealing almost $150,000 from her former business partner, 69-year-old Gary Gerlach. Gerlach’s forensic accountant said he was too sick to attend Tuesday’s hearing.

“This is a case I had a really hard time with because of his health condition,” Steve Hoslett, a forensic accountant based in San Diego said.

Hoslett said Gerlach first noticed the red flags years ago but wasn’t able to hire him until a month ago. The DA’s office added that Gerlach also had trouble accessing bank statements because Marchman was the only person named on the business accounts.

Investigators said Gerlach and Marchman first worked together in 2010, flipping houses under a business called Diamond Star Enterprises in Stockton. Two years later, Gerlach got very sick having to undergo chemo and dialysis and asked Marchman to pull the plug on the business.

“He just never looked at his bank account. He assumed all the money was still there,” Hoslett said.

But investigators say, that didn’t happen. Instead, Marchman continued to use the business’s bank account and credit card to rack up personal expenses.

"Making trips to Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, airline tickets, shopping at Lane Bryant, Victoria Secret, Vina, Dillard’s, etc,” Hoslett explained.

According to a court document FOX40 obtained, when investigators asked why she did it, she said, “My daughter was hospitalized several times for illnesses.”

“The charges don’t match that,” Taylor said, “Dining out, household goods, things that have nothing to do with house flipping.”

Taylor said he’s seen far too many cases like Marchman’s and urges business owners to keep an eye on their finances.

“Make sure that the bank statements always go to a different person other than the person spending the money,” he said.

Both Taylor and Hoslett advise business owners to get insurance for potential embezzlement, known as employee dishonesty insurance. Marchman is expected back in court next week and Taylor told us he’s asked the judge to expedite the court proceedings because the victim is very sick.