Couple Charged with $217,000 Embezzlement from CA Auto Repair Shop


A Martinez, CA, couple has been charged with embezzling more than $217,000 from a Berkeley, CA, auto body shop, in a simple scheme that involved the defendants allegedly writing hundreds of checks to themselves from the business, court records show.

Justin Durland and Bryanna Durland have each been charged with a single felony count of embezzlement over time from Berkeley Auto Body. Both have pleaded not guilty and have been released from jail while the charge is pending.

They are set to appear in court in mid-August for a preliminary hearing, where a judge will review the case and determine if there is evidence to support the charge, court records show.

Police allege the two were employed at the auto body shop, but quit earlier this year after a dispute with the owner. After they quit, the owner reportedly discovered the two had written and cashed 216 checks to themselves, totaling $217,554.64, from March 2022 to March 2023.

Bryanna Durland, who was hired to do payroll and accounting for the business, was arrested at her new employer in Walnut Creek, CA, in late May, court records show. She allegedly told police that she’d written checks from the auto body shop to compensate herself for picking up the tab when she went out to eat with coworkers. When investigators told her the amount seemed a bit steep for food, she allegedly said they needed the money for their children, authorities said.

When she was being booked into jail, police allegedly seized two checks that had been written to her and Justin Durland, according to court records. Justin Durland allegedly denied any knowledge of an embezzlement scheme, but said the couple had reimbursed themselves for certain expenses, with the business’ permission, authorities said.

Bryanna Durland was released after posting $110,000 bail and Justin Durland has been released on his own recognizance, without bail, according to court records.

We thank The Mercury News for reprint permission.

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