Woman sentenced to five years in prison for ripping off trucking company

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | 2/24/2015

A former bookkeeper at a California trucking company was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to skimming almost $3.5 million from the company since 1998.

Patricia A. Francisco, 62, of Huntington Beach, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney to 63 months in prison. Francisco pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud last August. In addition to the jail time, she has been ordered to repay the nearly $3.5 million she admitted to siphoning off her employer, Long Beach-based California Multimodal.

According to court records, beginning in around 1998 and continuing until April of last year, authorities alleged that Francisco knowingly executed a scheme and defrauded the company of nearly $3.5 million. The scheme revolved around Francisco stealing her supervisor’s signature stamp from his file cabinet when he was not in the office. She then stole company checks from a locked cabinet in the office, made them out to cash, and either deposited them in her personal account or cashed them, according to the indictment.

The indictment stated that Francisco also caused checks to be written to legitimate vendors, which she then endorsed and deposited into her personal account and created false expense vouchers for company employees. She covered her tracks by keying entries in the company’s books distinguishing the checks as payments to vendors. She deleted incriminating files on her work computer once the theft was discovered.

Prosecutors said the stolen funds were used for various purposes: $300,000 went toward a down payment on her home; another $50,000 was used to remodel the property; $25,000 for down payment on a condo; $40,000 to purchase a 2013 Cadillac LE; approximately $100,000 in jewelry; $30,000 worth of plastic surgery; and an undisclosed amount on multiple trips to Hawaii, Oklahoma, and Las Vegas, as well as the purchase of clothing, shoes, handbags and other gifts for herself, her family and friends.

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