After his haunted house was shut down by a fire marshal, former Grand Rapids Community College Bookstore manager Stewart Krulikoski told police that financial stress drove him to start pocketing cash generated by fraudulent buyback transactions and sell stolen merchandise on eBay, scamming the bookstore, operated by Follett Higher Education Group, out of more than $100,000 during the past five years.
Krulikoski, who told the investigator “he wasn’t going to deny anything,” pleaded guilty last week in Grand Rapids Circuit Court to an embezzlement charge of more than $20,000 but less than $50,000.
Though the exact retail value of the embezzlement scam is unknown, Krulikoski estimated the value to be as high as $265,000, with $200,000 from buyback scams at GRCC, $45,000 from buyback scams at the Holland buyback location, and $20,000 in stolen electronics.
The embezzlement came to light after Follett terminated Krulikoski on Oct. 1 for “job performance issues.” The Grand Rapids Police report stated that Wil Gage, Follett’s regional loss prevention manager for the Midwest, found that buybacks at the Holland location were performed without any documentation. When a report was run and compared with several titles from the Holland Buyback transactions, the same books “were indeed missing from the physical inventory.” He performed the same test at the main campus and found a number of buyback transactions by Krulikoski also matched titles of books missing from inventory.
That’s when Krulikoski met with Gage and another Follett official on Nov. 1 in a local hotel conference room, where he admitted to stealing electronics and pocketing cash from textbook buybacks. Grand Rapids Detective Thomas Heikkila interviewed him on Dec. 3.
Details of how Krulikoski embezzled cash and electronics are outlined in the police report documenting admissions that he “would ring fraudulent buyback transactions using random names and books that were previously bought back, sign the buyback slips himself, and keep the money for his own personal use.”
The report, written by Heikkila, states that Krulikoski did this at the main campus store for the past five years and also the Holland Buyback location for the past three years.
Besides the buyback fraud, the report also states that Krulikoski “found he needed additional money and was falling deeper into debt so approximately two years ago he began stealing merchandise from the store and selling it on eBay” under the seller name “terrorintheaisle.” An eBay report obtained by investigators shows he sold 99 items, including “high-end calculators, digital cameras, hard drives, and other electronics.”
Krulikoski told Heikkila that he would sometimes use the bookstore’s FedEx shipping system to send eBay buyers the stolen items they purchased.
Krulikoski was arrested Dec. 7 for an embezzlement charge of more than $50,000 but less than $100,000. He pleaded guilty last week to a reduced charge.
The police report states that Krulikoski admitted he embezzled because of financial problems that began five years ago when the haunted house he operated at GRCC was shut down by a fire marshal before he had the chance to earn back the $10,000 he had already invested in the operation for that year. He was also paying $4,000 a year for warehouse storage for the time he ran it.
“Krulikoski said that he was persuaded to keep the haunted house to ‘keep the dream alive,’ when the fact was that he should have sold it years ago,” Heikkila wrote in his report.
In addition to mounting credit card debt, Krulikoski told police his trouble was compounded by health problems.
“Krulikoski told me that he should have filed for bankruptcy years ago and never did and now has been forced to,” Heikkila stated in the report.
Krulikoski is scheduled to be sentenced by Kent County Circuit Court Judge Dennis Lieber at 2 p.m. May 9.