Two Yazoo City liquor store employees were charged with embezzlement last week, and the business owner said he has uncovered at least $30,000 worth of unaccounted funds, and he anticipates more.
Travis Morris and Mattie Washington were both charged with embezzlement, and police investigators said more charges and arrests could be forthcoming as the investigation continues into the alleged theft that may have taken place over the last two years.
Brock Wallace, owner of Delta Wine and Spirits first purchased the local business in October of 2013. His brother, the late Kyle Wallace, was a resident of Yazoo City. And Wallace said he was excited to invest in the community that his late brother loved.
"I didn't know much about Yazoo City at the time, but I saw how much the town embraced Kyle and the direct reward he got from loving on families and their children," Wallace said. "I saw lots of potential in Yazoo, and I thought this would be a perfect town to cultivate a business."
Things took a turn last week when Wallace said he began to review the store's sale history for a specific item. It was at that time that he noticed that the item had a significant price override, which prompted him to investigate.
"Upon investigation, I uncovered a massive embezzlement scheme by multiple employees," Wallace said. "Due to this being a new, open, criminal investigation, I won't go into the details on their numerous methods of stealing money. However, so far, we have uncovered over $30,000 unaccounted for, and I wouldn't be surprised if that amount greatly exceeds as this investigation continues."
Wallace said he has uncovered over 200 transactions with the criminal acts possibly taking place over two years. He is currently working with the business's software provider to uncover every incident of theft.
Wallace admits that he is hurt by the recent developments, but he plans to move forward with his local business with major rebuilding efforts.
"The community has always supported small businesses, and I know the people of Yazoo will continue to support me," Wallace said. "Delta Wine is not a faceless franchise that gets help from 'corporate.' Delta Wine is very much a 'mom and pop store' that leans on the people for support. This crime has directly affected my family, my children and my future. But we will recover."
Finding trustworthy employees is one of Wallace's main goals as he sets out to rebuild his business. He said he will continue to build on Delta Wine's foundation.
"I still have faith that there are honest, hardworking employees out there looking for employment," he said. "Finding these people will be my highest priority in the days to come."
Wallace said he wanted to come forward to The Herald in the hopes of urging business owners to pay close attention to their daily operations. If it could happen to him, it could happen to anyone.
"More than anything, I am truly heartbroken," he said. "Every employee, I treat as if they were my own flesh and blood. My wife and I went out of our way to help these employees and their families in times of struggle or need. It is sickening to know that this is how we were repaid. We understand that evil exists, but we trust that truth will prevail. And Delta Wine will make a stronger comeback, stronger than before."