Woman Admits $5.7M Embezzlement
According to the San Diego Union Tribune, a former company controller is looking at prison after pleading guilty to embezzling $5.7 million from her San Marcos employer.
Riverside County resident Elizabeth Ann Masters, 45, is charged with several felonies, including embezzlement by an employee, grand theft, theft by false pretenses, forgery, and willfully filing a false tax return, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department's online jail records.
Masters took a plea deal that saw her agree to a nine-year prison sentence, Deputy District Attorney, Anna Winn, said. Jailed since July, Masters is to be sentenced April 15 in Vista Superior Court.
Masters pleaded guilty to four felonies, including grand theft from an employer and forgery, Winn said.
The size of Masters' embezzlement makes the case the second largest such case in recent North County history, Winn said.
The largest embezzlement uncovered in recent years was by Annette Yeomans, a former finance executive. She pleaded guilty in 2009 to stealing nearly $10 million from her San Marcos employer.
Winn said Masters siphoned $5.7 million from Performance Apparel Group, LLC, over eight years, primarily by arranging to receive extra paychecks each month.
The company uncovered accounting irregularities and fired Masters in late 2011, Winn said. Masters soon moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she got a job in accounting.
The prosecutor said that when Masters was fired, she owned 100 head of horses at her Aguanga ranch in Southwest Riverside County.
Winn said that Masters duped horse-lovers by posting online messages to say that she lost her job because her company had gone out of business, she was battling cancer and that she needed money to care for the large herd.
Investigators were unable to turn up any evidence that she had cancer, Winn said.