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Former Vice President of Finance Pleads Guilty to Grand Theft, False State Income Tax Returns

Released: February 23, 2009

(Sacramento) A Chatsworth man pleaded guilty Friday to one felony count of grand theft and one felony count of filing a false state income tax return, the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) announced.

James I. Ha, 35, was employed as the vice president of finance for a local marketing company. According to court documents, Ha abused his position of trust by embezzling more than $350,000 from 2001 – 2004. In addition, Ha also failed to claim this money on his state income tax returns for the same years. All income is taxable including income from illegal sources. Ha used the embezzled funds for personal expenses.

Sentencing is delayed until April 2010 to give Ha time to pay restitution to his former employer and pay FTB more than $45,000 representing the unpaid tax, penalties, interest, and the cost of the investigation. Ha faces up to three years in state prison and five years of formal probation.

Failing to report all income is part of the $6.5 billion tax gap California faces each year. The tax gap is defined as the difference between the tax that is owed and the tax that is paid. Since January, FTB has cooperated with local district attorneys around the state on six successful prosecutions.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Marcelita V. Haynes presided over the case and Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Reid Rose prosecuted the case. This was a joint investigation between the Los Angeles County Police Department, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, and FTB.