Linda Blackwell Simmons
Fruitcake Fraud – A documentary streaming on discovery+ beginning December 1
It is holiday time, and what is better than a tale that includes fruitcake? The story is of a crime – spanning years in the making and perhaps long forgotten by many – telling the saga of an unremarkable little man who once held a humdrum job in a small Texas town.
Beginning Wednesday, December 1, Fruitcake Fraud, a 90-minute documentary will be available on discovery+ streaming. The film chronicles the life of Sandy Jenkins, the accountant for Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, about an hour’s drive south of Dallas. Collin Street Bakery, esteemed far and wide as the artisan in fruitcake production, crafts each cake to perfection.
“When I first heard about what happened here, it seemed too nutty to believe,” says Celia Aniskovich, Director and Executive Producer. “But it’s all true, and our film is filled with those jaw-dropping moments. The people of Corsicana and the employees of the bakery opened their doors and welcomed us into their lives to share this remarkable story.”
Bob McNutt, President and CEO, is the third generation to carry on the family enterprise, having inherited it from his father. His grandfather and great uncle were two of a group of investors who bought the company in 1946, the business already a half-century old, the original owners having begun baking in 1896. Early on the bakery produced mainly bread, but later the owners decided to gamble on a specialty product – fruitcake. The bakery flourished and has maintained that success under Bob McNutt.
“During the holidays, it is not uncommon for daily cake sales to be in the tens of thousands,” says Hayden Crawford, VP Customer Service. “We ship to all 50 states, and 196 foreign countries. During what we call ‘fruitcake season’, we employ up to 500 employees and expect to ship nearly two million pounds this season.”
It was 1998 when Sandy Jenkins began working for the bakery. Hired as an accountant, Sandy was good at his job – he was reliable, he maintained the books, and he was never late meeting payroll or paying corporate taxes. By the year 2000, he had worked his way up to corporate controller and a $50,000 annual salary. But Sandy was missing something. He felt unnoticed, not part of the inner circle in Corsicana, a town some thought to be cliquish. Others looked above him, to the side of him, through him – but seldom at him. Then one day, Kay, his wife of over 30 years, remarked that she did not think the bakery was paying him enough. Sandy began to long for more.
On a cold December day in 2004, six years into his position, Sandy sat at his desk and noticed no one else was around. Placing his hand into the petty cash drawer, he was careful not to take much, at least the first time. Before long, he moved beyond the petty cash drawer. He began writing company checks to legitimate companies – each disbursement growing larger – then voiding those disbursements in the system. He then mailed the funds to his own creditors. Over his almost decade-long theft spree, utilizing cunning accounting, always making sure the books balanced, he managed to purchase a home in Santa Fe, NM, high-end jewelry, a $50,000 wine collection, expensive cars, and Neiman Marcus clothes. Sandy’s personal shopper at Dallas’ Neiman’s even had nicknames for the pair, calling him Fruitcake and Kay, Cupcake.
Bob McNutt and his management team could not understand why the company was not performing better financially. To bolster the bottom line and to advance the bakery’s name, several brick and mortar stores were opened in nearby towns.
“We thought this strategy would help the sagging sales, but the culprit turned out to be Sandy’s $2 million a year embezzling habit,” Hayden says.
Then one day in mid-2013, an astute relatively new staffer walked into Sandy’s office with a check she could not explain. That was the day it began to tumble, and tumble it did. Over a nine-year period, Sandy and his wife (although it remains unclear how much she knew) had absconded with $114,000 in cash and almost $17 million in checks.
The documentary is not just about Sandy and his crime. Aniskovich tells of one of the more memorable filming moments – the fruitcake tasting they held in Corsicana. People from all walks of life showed up to try Collin Street Bakery’s famous fruitcake and tell the crew what they thought. A local musician graced the group with a fruitcake jingle he wrote on the spot.
“In order to pull off all of the fruitcake moments in the film, we had to employ roughly 60 pounds of fruitcake,” says Aniskovich. “I wish I could say no fruitcakes were harmed in the making of this film. The number of Collin Street Bakery cherry icebox cookies consumed by the team was too high to count.”
Sandy Jenkins died in 2019 in a federal prison in Seagoville, having lived out the remainder of his life never too far from his crime site. Kay served a five-year probation and has since moved to another location.
FRUITCAKE FRAUD is
produced for discovery+ by ITV America’s Good Caper Content in
association with Dial Tone Films and Red Entertainment and directed by Celia Aniskovich. Jordana Hochman, Alison Dammann, Sumit David and Red Sanders (of Fort Worth’s Red Productions) serve as Executive Producers along with Aniskovich. Diana Sperrazza is the Executive Producer for discovery+.