“Better Life” Theft From Employer Lands Woman 5 Years’ Jail

SANTA ANA, California – A Huntington Beach woman was sentenced today to 63 months in federal prison for embezzling nearly $3.5 million from her former employer, a warehouse and trucking-services company.

Patricia A. Francisco, 62, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney after the defendant pleaded guilty in August to four counts of wire fraud.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Carney ordered Francisco to pay $3,474,199 in restitution to her former employer, California Multimodal, LLC (CM), which is based in Long Beach.

For more than 15 years, Francisco stole money from CM, where she worked as a bookkeeper. According to court documents, Francisco used three basic means to misappropriate company funds: she stole company checks, which she made out to “cash;” she caused checks to be written to legitimate vendors, which she then stole and deposited into her bank accounts; and she created bogus expense vouchers for other employees, which allowed to obtain checks that she deposited into her own accounts. As part of her scheme, Francisco used a signature stamp belonging to her boss to sign the checks.

Francisco used the money to finance personal expenses, such as a $300,000 down payment on her house, a down payment on a condominium, a $40,000 Cadillac Escalade, approximately $100,000 worth of jewelry, and numerous trips to locations like Hawaii. Francisco told investigators that she stole the money “because she wanted a better life,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed with the court that cited a simple motive for the crimes: “greed – she wanted to live a more luxurious lifestyle.”

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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