An employee of Williams-Sonoma has been sentenced to eight years in prison after lax security systems at the US housewares chain allowed him to steal over $1m worth of merchandise.
Larry Settle worked at a Williams-Sonoma warehouse, from where he would fraudulently arrange shipments of goods to his sister’s house. According to a report on commercialappeal.com, Settle had the authority to make inventory adjustments and it was easy for him to make a shipment of a certain number of items appear as fewer in the company’s system.
A colleague of his at Williams-Sonoma said that Settle had been very trusted, and that when items went missing he would be asked to look into it. The colleague added that the retailer had now tightened up its security measures.
The scam lasted for over two years, with Settle’s sister taking in hundreds of deliveries of cookware, kitchen knives, small appliances and tabletop items. In total, over 1,200 boxes of goods were involved, many containing up to 10 products. At cost, they were worth $1.15m to Williams-Sonoma, and much more at retail.
On one day alone – the day on which Settle was arrested – 22 boxes of goods worth in the region of $90,000 were delivered.
According to commercialappeal.com, only about a fifth of the stolen items have been recovered, and the losses were not insured.
Settle’s sister has been charged with theft, and other members of his family who worked at Williams-Sonoma have lost their jobs after admitting to handling stolen goods. Another man who bought thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise from Settle has been put on probation for eight years.
Sentencing Settle to eight years in prison, Judge John Fowlkes Jr said: “This was a major fraud perpetrated on one of the top companies in the area. It caused a significant impact on the company and its employees.”