CALEDONIA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A Kirby salesman has pleaded guilty to stealing cash from a woman’s purse in Kent County.
Christopher Fahling reportedly went to an elderly woman’s home in Caledonia Township in January and told her he needed to give a demonstration of the Kirby vacuum in order to get paid. He reassured her she was not obligated to buy anything and was very polite, according to the victim.
While inside the home Fahling went into the kitchen and stole $50 from the 81-year-old woman’s purse, as well as a Walmart gift card.
When Fahling went to spend the gift card, the numbers on the gift receipt matched the transaction and police were able to get video of the suspect.
At first he denied the crime until he was confronted with the surveillance pictures. Fahling later entered a guilty plea in court.
The victim’s daughter said the theft has destroyed her mother’s sense of security.
“He has taken more than eighty dollars from her,” said Donna Tolan. “She is scared to live in her own house. She’s scared. She is scared to go out into her own yard alone.”
According to court documents, Fahling works for Cezo Inc. He was charged with larceny in a building and the use of a financial transaction device.
Chris Cortese, a Cezo spokesman, told 24 Hour News 8 in an email that once the company learned what happened at the woman’s house, it immediately terminated its relationship with Fahling.
Cortese said the company did perform a background check on Fahling and found that he had not been convicted of a crime — a fact that 24 Hour News 8 independently confirmed through Michigan State Police records.
“For almost twenty-five years, Cezo has been an independent distributor of Kirby products,” Cortese wrote. “Throughout our history, we have made sure that our salespeople or “dealers” conduct themselves to the highest ethical standards. We recruit and teach our dealers to offer a great product legally and ethically. Cezo has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan.”
Fahling is expected to be back in court on July 2 for sentencing. He is facing four years in prison.
Two other Kirby vacuum salespeople also hired by Cezo Inc. have been arrested in connection with using high-pressure sales tactics in Oceana County.
The victim in that case told 24 Hour news 8 that for hours the two salespeople pushed her to purchase a $900 Kirby vacuum cleaner.
On Friday, 24 Hour News 8 contacted Cezo’s Grand Rapids’ office, who said it performs background checks on all of its associates.