by Ivan Foley
The owner of a liquor store in Platte City is sitting in the Platte County Jail this week, being held on charges that she stole more than $220,000 from a business for whom she worked.
Karen A. Backues, age 45, who along with her husband is owner of the Olive or Twist Liquor Stores in Platte City and in Liberty, is being held with a cash-only bond set at $50,000.
Backues, who lives in Platte City, faces a total of six felony counts. Three of the counts are for stealing and three are for forgery. All charges are felonies.
Backues was served with an arrest warrant last Wednesday. Her arraignment was held Thursday, and her next court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 9 a.m.
Authorities allege that between April 2009 and December 2009, GBA Master Series, Inc., a software company based in Overland Park, Kan., had a total of nine checks written without the knowledge of the president of the company, Donald Pinkston, and his signature was forged. The total loss from the nine checks exceeds $220,000.
Four of the checks were written in amounts of more than $25,000: A check in June for $31,268.12, a check in October in the amount of $28,382; another check in October in the amount of $32,850; and a check in November for $42,500.
During the investigation, detectives discovered the checks were deposited into a joint checking account that belongs to Backues and her husband, Bryan Keil, at a Platte City bank.
The statement of probable cause says that detectives discovered that Backues is a “former” employee of GBA Master Series.
Reached by The Landmark via phone, Pinkston, the company president at GBA Master Series, said Backues had been “under suspicion” for an undisclosed period of time. Her employment there ended just a couple of weeks ago, on Thursday, Jan. 28.
“I guess you could say she resigned,” Pinkston told The Landmark. He said she was “kind of a long term employee,” having worked for the company since 2003.
Pinkston confirmed that Backues was the software company’s chief financial officer. Asked if she was generally the person who wrote the checks, Pinkston said:
“Her job was to do pretty much all of the accounting,” he told The Landmark.
Pinkston then declined to go into further detail, saying the company may be pursuing further legal action against Backues.
Backues opened her Olive or Twist Liquor Store along Running Horse Road in Platte City in 2006. She and her husband just opened a second location--this one in Liberty--in November.
In the statement of probable cause filed with the court, authorities say Backues admitted she had written the checks totaling over $200,000 and forged Pinkston’s name on the checks. Backues, according to court papers, admitted to authorities she deposited the checks into her and her husband’s joint account at a Platte City bank.
In addition, Backues admitted to authorities that she altered the GBA Master Series Inc. check ledger to reflect that the checks were for other items, according to court papers.
In August, Backues and her Olive or Twist store were featured in an article in Chromed Out Magazine. In that piece, Backues described herself as the “chief financial officer for a small in-house infrastructure software developer located in Overland Park, Kan.”
“I am probably one of the most ‘non-traditional’ bean counters you will ever encounter,” Backues told the magazine. “That’s code for high strung red head. I love my job and the people I work with and have no desire to quit anytime soon.”
The magazine article reported Backues and Keil have five children.
Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd said the three counts of stealing carry a maximum of 15 years in prison per count, and the three counts of forgery carry a maximum of seven years in prison per count.