A California CPA has admitted to abusing his positions at a worship center in New Jersey and a nonprofit in California to steal more than $4 million.
Donald Gridiron, 51, of Pomona, Calif., pleaded guilty Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of wire fraud and one count of filing a false tax return.
According to prosecutors, an unidentified religious facility located in Rahway, N.J., hired Gridiron based, in part, on his connections with individuals in the religious community as well as his standing within that community. The religious facility agreed to pay Gridiron a monthly salary and reimburse him for reasonable expenses related to his work. In addition, Gridiron was the treasurer for a non-profit entity registered in California.
Gridiron allegedly used his employment with the worship center and his status with the nonprofit to illegally syphon money without their consent or authorization. In total, Gridiron transferred more than $4 million to accounts he controlled (see CPA Charged with Defrauding Religious Center out of $4M). Gridiron then used the funds for his own use, including mortgage payments, luxury car payments and gambling expenses. Gridiron also failed to report this income on his tax returns, including $950,000 he stole during the 2011 tax year.
The charge of wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The charge of filing a false tax return is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 14, 2015.
U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel in Newark, and law enforcement officers of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen, with the investigation leading to Gridiron’s guilty plea.
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