Russell Eugene Dunbar must have loved working as office manager and controller at Fields Pianos in Santa Ana.
In addition to his salary, Dunbar concocted a scheme to steal a whopping $6.8 million in company revenues during a three-year period that ended in 2005, according to court records.
After his departure from the job, an audit easily discovered the thievery and District Attorney Tony Rackauckas charged Dunbar with 48 counts of forgery.
But the greedy, 55-year-old businessman got a huge break from Orange County Superior Court Judge Richard F. Toohey.
Toohey accepted Dunbar's reasoning that half of the counts dealt with forging private corporate records and therefore were not covered by California criminal law.
Rather than accept defeat, Rackauckas and Matthew Lockhart, one of his deputies, appealed the order and this week a California Court of Appeal in Santa Ana agreed with the DA.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Writing for the court, Justice William Bedsworth noted that state law says it's a violation to forge "any book of record" and called the controller's acts "a scam."
According to Rackauckas, Dunbar deposited customer checks into his personal bank account, skimmed a portion of the funds and then doctored the company's deposit slips to reflect a lower, false amount.
Upshot: Dunbar, who has been free on bail and claims he's innocent, will now face all 48 criminal charges and a potential ugly prison sentence if he is convicted.