Columbus man charged with felony extortion
A preliminary hearing is scheduled Monday, July 8, in Marysville Municipal Court for a Columbus man charged with three felony counts of extortion.
Thomas A. Coverdale, 42, of Columbus, was arrested June 28 on South High Street in Columbus by Union County deputies and the Franklin County Sheriff's Office Special Investigative Unit.
The charges against him are all third-degree felonies.
Judge Michael J. Grigsby set bond for Coverdale at $75,000 on July 1.
Capt. Jeff Frisch of the Union County Sheriff's Office said the last known address for Coverdale was a halfway house on Jackson Pike. Based on interviews, he said detectives believe Coverdale had lived with friends or stayed in abandoned houses since leaving the halfway house.
He is currently in the Tri-County Jail.
Frisch said the sheriff's office was notified three weeks ago by Environmental Management Inc. of Plain City that the company had found time sheets that Coverdale allegedly falsified.
Coverdale also allegedly began creating false time sheets in the names of former employees, according to Frisch. Investigators believe he then gave the time sheets to a clerk at EMI and forced the clerk to issue checks in the former employees' names, cash them, and forward the money to him.
"Coverdale threatened to report him to management, which would result in loss of his job and prison time, taking him away from his family," Frisch said.
The company believes the extortions took place over a two-month period, in May and June. It is estimated there were 15 separate instances, according to Frisch.
"Total loss to the company was $10,400 and some change, thus far," he said. "The company is still auditing its books."
Information from the sheriff's office indicates that Coverdale is no longer em-ployed by EMI.
According to Frisch, the clerk, who law enforcement will not name, kept some of the money so a grand jury will decide whether to indict him. Possible charges include felony theft, tampering with records and forgery, Frisch said.