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California woman embezzled money to pay for luxuries

A Laguna Beach police detective led the investigation of a 34-year-old woman and uncovered evidence that she embezzled $1,538,771 from multiple businesses in Orange County. After accepting a plea deal from federal prosecutors, the woman entered a guilty plea and now faces the possibility of up to 23 years in prison and $350,000 in fines. According to court documents, she primarily spent the money on vacations, living expenses, horse rentals and cosmetic surgery.

The detective said that she solicited clients by hosting parties for women business owners similar to her in age with young children. After gaining their trust, she acted as their accountant. She falsely claimed to hold an accounting degree.

Investigators reported that she presented herself as the president of a financial consulting company. Her clients thought they were paying legitimate expenses to a variety of false personas that she created as well as paying taxes to the Internal Revenue Service. Her charges included failing to report misappropriated funds on her income tax returns and wire fraud.

When a person stands accused of embezzlement or other white-collar crimes, an attorney could provide advice that protects the person's rights. An attorney could describe when a defendant has to respond to questions from authorities and analyze the strength of the evidence cited in the case. To prepare a defense, an attorney might question how investigators interpreted financial documents. If negotiating a plea deal appears to be the best option for the person, an attorney could try to gain a lenient sentence by challenging weak evidence and arranging for the client to pay restitution to victims.

Source: Orange County Register, "O.C. woman who stole money to pay for cosmetic surgery, rental home and vacations pleads guilty to embezzlement", Anthony Mendoza, June 13, 2017

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