In the second largest embezzlement case in North County history, according to the San Diego County District Attorney’s office, an Aguanga woman has been formally sentenced for embezzling approximately $5.7 million from her employer – Proformance Apparel Group, LLP – between 2003 and 2011. She has also been charged with tax evasion for failing to report the income in her tax returns from 2006 to 2010.
A press release from the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) states that 45-year-old Elizabeth Masters managed payroll distribution for the company, and forged more than 700 paychecks in her name over the course of her employment. Masters initially pled not guilty to charges of income tax evasion, forgery and grand theft, U-T San Diego reported in March 2012. However, official documents from the investigation indicate that she had been embezzling from Proformance as early as her second paycheck. Though her annual salary was believed to be $50,000, Masters allegedly pocketed $134,000 during her first year.
According to various news outlets, a large portion of the funds Masters embezzled went toward maintaining her ranch, where she had over 100 horses stabled when her theft was first uncovered.
Last month, Master pled guilty to the charges against her, and has recently been sentenced to nine years in prison. In addition, she must pay back the embezzled amount, plus restitution, to her former employer and the FTB.
In white collar criminal matters, the tax agencies such as the IRS and FTB have powerful and well trained agents to assist the government in presenting its case. An experienced tax attorney can be an invaluable ally.