(Nov. 27) David Lenihan, controller for nearly a decade for Washington Fruit and Produce Co., Yakima, Wash., and Underwood Fruit and Warehouse Co., Bingen, Wash. has been charged with embezzling more than $2 million from the two companies.

Lenihan, 54, was arraigned Nov. 14 on charges of first degree theft. A Yakima County Superior Court judge set bail at $200,000, but Lenihan was released on his own recognizance Nov. 16.

A spokeswoman for the Yakima County prosecuting attorney’s office said Lenihan is accused of manipulating accounts to generate higher payments for two orchards he owned. One of the two companies fired Lenihan in 2005, she said, and that firing led to an audit that uncovered irregularities.

An affidavit submitted to the court by Yakima Police Department investigators said Lenihan embezzled $1.1 million from Underwood Fruit and nearly $1 million from Washington Fruit. More than $400,000 of the theft was obtained by using forged checks, according to the affidavit. Because the alleged forgeries may have violated federal law, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been asked to review the case. A spokesman for the Yakima office of the FBI said no federal charges had been filed against Lenihan as of Nov. 20.

Telephone calls to attorneys representing the two companies were not returned.

The case is scheduled to go to trial Dec. 31. However, a status hearing on Dec. 20 could delay the starting date, the prosecuting attorney’s spokeswoman said.

Family-owned Washington Fruit and Produce Co. was founded 91 years ago. It grows, packs and ships apples, pears, cherries and wine grapes. The company began marketing fruit from Underwood Fruit in the 1940s.