The Grayson County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the arrest of a Southmayd couple this week on theft charges after the two allegedly embezzled at least $79,000 while they worked at 69/82 Metal Recyclers in Denison.

In an emailed statement sent Friday, Lt. John Holloway said the GCSO obtained an arrest warrant for Rusty and Ashley Belcher, both 36, on Oct. 2 and took the two into custody on Tuesday for felony theft charges. The funds were allegedly stolen between March 2017 and June 2018.

“Investigators conducted an audit of the financial records of the business and interviewed the suspects,” Holloway said. “The Sheriff’s office determined that there was probable cause for the offense of Theft $30K

Ashley Belcher declined to comment Friday and Rusty Belcher said he was not prepared to offer a statement before speaking with their attorney, Jason Butcher.

The owner of 69/82 Metal Recyclers, Jeff Hill, said Ashley Belcher had worked at his business for roughly two years and Rusty Belcher for five years, but the couple’s behavior in recent months had become increasingly suspicious. Hill said he and his employees had seen the Belchers make expensive purchases on items like an RV and that they had spent a considerable amount of time and money gambling at a nearby casino.

“The first flag was them living beyond their means,” Hill said. “It started off small, but toward the end, it just started increasing rapidly.”

Hill said the couple was responsible for issuing tickets which stated the approximate weight and, in turn, value of inventory received and then submitted the tickets to the business for payout. While Hill said he and his staff were suspicious of the couple for some time, the two managed to regularly produce balanced tickets and figures. Hill said he reviewed tickets and surveillance footage dating back more than a year and contacted the Sheriff’s Office after he believed he had amassed enough evidence to show that the Belcher’s were duplicating tickets, manipulating the figures and collecting the cash.

“If they would have stopped a long time ago, they probably never would have been found out,” Hill said. “But they just started getting more and more and more.”

Hill said his review of the Belchers’ documentation and their submitted tickets was not yet complete and that he felt the total taken from his business could climb even higher than the $79,000 estimated by the GCSO. He added that while the alleged theft wouldn’t sink his business, it would still take the company some time to recover the losses.

“I feel upset and I feel disappointed,” Hill said. “But, really, I’m disappointed for all the other employees. It has hurt them as well.”

Hill said he had known Rusty Belcher for many years and that he had grown to be a trusted employee. But Hill said that trust and the long-standing relationship made his discovery all the more difficult.

“The thing that hurts me the most is that when I buried my mom in May, they came to the funeral that day, upset,” Hill said. “But, that very same day, they stole $4,000 from me.”

Rusty and Ashley Belcher each posted a $7,500 surety bond and were released from the Grayson County Jail on Wednesday.