Many New England businesses hire both in-house accountants and private accounting firms to manage their financial affairs. In the vast majority of cases, this arrangement works well, providing the company with a dual-level of financial supervision.
Occasionally, however, one of the levels breaks down. This is the case with Alden Shoe Co., Inc. in Middleborough. Alden discovered in late 2019 that its longtime chief financial officer had stolen more than $20 million from the company over eight years. Now, the company is trying to recover some of these funds by suing the persons who were allegedly given money by the CFO.
One of the most noticeable recipients of the allegedly stolen money is Bianca de la Garza, a former newscaster in the Boston area. The complaint alleges that the CFO and de la Garza met in 2012 and established what appears to have been a romantic relationship.
The couple frequently vacationed together, and de la Garza received many expensive gifts from Alden’s CFO. Among the gifts was a co-op apartment in New York City, a Mercedes-Benz, a diamond ring allegedly worth $158,000 and many more luxury goods.
The money also allowed de la Garza to retain a personal shopper at Neiman Marcus, who bought clothing and other luxury items that occasionally came to hundreds of thousands of dollars per month. The complaint alleges that the CFO gave de la Garza more than $15 million of Alden’s money.
The complaint describes several different methods that were used to steal the company’s money. In one part of the scheme, the CFO opened a line of credit worth $8 million that he controlled. The man also wrote checks to himself drawn on bank accounts that held the company’s retained earnings.
The theft was discovered when the company’s management asked the CFO to transfer some retained earnings into various family trusts. The CFO told management that he would transfer the money as requests, but after frequent delays, the CFO stopped coming to work. Shortly afterward, the CFO stopped coming to work.
The key to success in these lawsuits is the ability to trace the embezzled funds through various bank accounts, trust funds and securities. Many businesses, large and small, face the risk of embezzlement. Anyone with concerns about missing funds will need the services of an experienced business litigator who can unravel the schemes used to steal the money.