Four and a half hours after detailing the arrest of an Irvine architectural firm's financial controller, who has been charged with embezzling nearly $2 million from corporate accounts and an owner's personal account, the Orange County District Attorney's office announced a bookkeeper was sentenced today to two years in state prison for embezzling more than $250,000 from the Newport Beach hair salon where she had worked for over 15 years.
The controller, Salvatory Josef Fulwider, 36, of Yorba Linda, could get up to 44 years and four months in state prison if he is convicted of all the charges against him.
He is up on two felony counts of grand theft, nine felony counts of forgery, 37 felony counts of falsifying records, and sentencing enhancements and allegations for property loss over $1.3 million, aggravated white collar crime over $500,000, property loss over $200,000, and loss over $100,000. Fulwider is being held on $1.3 million bail and must prove the money is from a legal and legitimate source before posting bond. He is expected to be arraigned Monday at the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach.
At the McLarand Vasquez Emsiek & Partners, Inc. architectural firm, Fulwider was directly responsible for the corporate finances and the personal finances of at least one company owner between November 2003 and March 2009, according to prosecutors. He is accused of transferring more than $1.3 million from the personal bank account of the owner, identified as Carl M., without the victim's knowledge or permission.
Fulwider is accused of using more than $550,000 of the stolen loot to pay off his personal credit card balances. Then, check out this nifty trick (if it's proved true): he allegedly used the rest of the money to pay off charges he made on the corporate credit card--then sought $680,000 in reimbursements from the company for supposedly having paid off the balance personally. Them's huevos. If it really happened, of course.
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The alleged scheme unraveled in December 2008,when the owner tried to use his corporate credit card but was declined. The defendant is accused of then trying to paper over the crimes through forgery and falsifying records.
In the Hampton Salon case, Bethany Jane Brady, 43, of Newport Beach, had overlooked their books while working for an accounting firm for 13 years. After she was terminated from that job, Brady was hired to do the bookkeeping for $250 a month.
From October 2006 to August 2009, she used the salon checking account to pay her personal utility bills, and in 2007 opened a PayPal account under her name using the Hampton Salon checking account, from which she then transferred funds to pay for personal expenses, according to the charges. The theft of more than $250,000 was discovered in a September 2009 audit of Hampton Salon accounts.
Brady pleaded guilty to one felony count of grand theft, one felony count of identity theft, and a sentencing enhancement for loss over $200,000. In addition to the prison time, she was ordered to pay $250,000 in restitution.