Finance director admits stealing $500K from hotel

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SAN DIEGO — A senior finance executive for the Westin San Diego pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to stealing more than a half-million dollars from the hotel.

Kevin Kelso, 36, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced April 18 by U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw.

bailAccording to court records, Kelso was an employee of Interstate Hotels & Resorts and worked as Westin San Diego’s Director of Finance between December 2010 and September 2012.

Prosecutors said Kelso used his position to embezzle funds from the Westin to pay his personal expenses.

He admitted stealing the money using a variety of means, including abusing the hotel’s change order process — the process by which a hotel exchanges large-denomination bills for smaller bills to keep in the hotel safe; obtaining an unauthorized American Express card, which he paid using Westin San Diego’s bank account; and writing checks from Westin San Diego’s bank account to pay himself and third parties for personal expenses.

In his plea, Kelso also admitted to concealing the fact that he was taking cash from the hotel’s safe and not making a corresponding deposit during the change order process, and making false entries in Westin San Diego’s general ledger.

Kelso also admitted to defrauding his former employer, the Ann Arbor Marriot Ypsilanti in Michigan, using similar methods. The total amount of embezzled funds from the two hotels was more than $800,000, prosecutors said.

The defendant is free on bond pending sentencing.