He would take customers' payments via Square and put the money into his own account, the business owner told ABC7.
TEMECULA, Calif. (KABC) -- When Matt Capelouto lost his 20-year-old daughter Alexandra to fentanyl poisoning in 2019, he leaned on an employee of his Temecula business to take on a larger role.
That former employee, Yulian Galaz, now faces 10 felony counts, accused of embezzling $173,000 from Capelouto's Same Day T-shirt Printing business.
"At this challenging time, it was hard for me to have direct interaction with customers, so I promoted him to a managerial position where he would be working directly with the customers," recalled Capelouto. "He was happy to do that ... felt he was doing the right things to help me out under the circumstances. At some point, he took advantage of the grief I was going through."
The alleged scheme involved the financial services platform Square, which allows small to medium-sized business to accept credit card payments and use phones or tablets as payment registers. It wasn't the way customers would pay for services at Capelouto's business.
"When customers were coming in to pay for jobs, [Galaz] was swiping them right into his Square account," said Capelouto. "A customer wouldn't know any different because their statement would have my business name on it."
Eyewitness News attempted to ask Galaz about the alleged scheme after he entered a not guilty plea Friday, but the group he was with chose to physically block our photographer instead outside Riverside Superior Court in Murrieta.
At one point, our camera ended up on the ground.
Capelouto said after Galaz had embezzled most of his life savings and was fired, Galaz opened up a competing print shop a few miles from Capelouto's.
"Very likely with the money he stole. Yes. It's unfathomable," said Capelouto. "The arrogance, knowing he was under investigation and opens a competing print shop."
Friday, the day Galaz turned himself in, was the 4-year anniversary of Capelouto's daughter's death.