- Associated Press - Sunday, March 16, 2014

CORSICANA, Texas (AP) - Everybody in town seems to know about the $16.6 million embezzlement uncovered last June at Corsicana’s landmark fruitcake producer, Collin Street Bakery.

But many residents remain befuddled by the case of Sandy Jenkins, the bakery’s $50,000-a-year corporate controller, who sits in a Dallas detention center charged with multiple mail fraud, conspiracy and other felony counts, which he has denied.

Corsicanans are stumped over how the alleged siphoning went undetected for eight years while the accused led a glaringly opulent lifestyle - luxury cars, vacation homes, even a lavish wine collection - in this churchy, plain-cotton community 55 miles southeast of Fort Worth.

Although the headlines have faded, people still seethe over the targeting of the 117-year-old bakery, a mainstay of local civic generosity, not to mention a major source of hometown pride. When residents travel and mention that they hail from Corsicana, there’s instant recognition as the place where a million DeLuxe-brand fruitcakes are produced for Christmas.

“Everyone holds the bakery dear to their heart,” said Kim Rimonte, looking up from her salad plate at Corsicana’s Roy’s Cafe, a favorite with early-morning coffee sippers that was founded in 1928. “How dare they hurt the bakery?”

Others wonder aloud how Jenkins‘ very public display of wealth didn’t arouse suspicion.

“It’s crazy they didn’t catch it sooner,” said Richelle Perry, 28, Roy’s co-manager, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (http://bit.ly/1frc41u). “Someone had to know.”

Many items of the multimillion-dollar jewelry cache seized by the FBI were worn by Sandy’s wife, Kay Jenkins, a one-time caterer. Yet she sees herself as a victim. Her recent divorce petition accused her husband of “fraud” against her during their 43-year marriage. They split five weeks after he was fired by Collin Street Bakery.

Sandy Jenkins attributed their good fortune to inheritances he and his wife had received, said Hayden Crawford, a bakery partner and its marketing chief.

Each had inherited money, Crawford said, but nothing approaching the $16.6 million that allegedly fueled a full-throttle spending spree from 2005 to last June. Kay Jenkins has been charged with her husband with mail fraud conspiracy and aiding and abetting, along with making false statements to a financial institution.

Sandy Jenkins has pleaded not guilty. But his attorney, Brett Stalcup, signed an agreement with the U.S. attorney’s office in October that reads, “Jenkins acknowledges that making restitution to CSB (Collin Street Bakery) is in his best interest.”

The bakery has filed suit in Corsicana to recover its lost millions.

Federal prosecutors allege that the money was used to buy a $784,000 vacation home in Santa Fe, N.M., and to take 232 private chartered flights costing $3.2 million to places such as Martha’s Vineyard, Aspen, Napa Valley and the Caribbean resort islands of Turks and Caicos.

Stalcup declined to comment, saying he was involved in discussions with the prosecutors in the case. The attorney did not respond to a Star-Telegram request to interview Jenkins.

At home, the couple drove a parade of ever-changing luxury vehicles. Sandy Jenkins explained to a colleague that he always had an expensive set of wheels because, as an avid “auto trader,” he’d buy and sell cars in quick succession at what he claimed was little cost.

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