A former partner with Grant Thornton has pleaded guilty in a Manhattan federal court to stealing nearly $4 million in client payments.

Craig B. Haber, 59, pled guilty Wednesday before U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel to stealing client payments intended for the firm. Haber was a partner between 1993 and July 2012 at the Chicago-based firm’s offices in New York City providing tax preparation and advisory services.

Grant Thornton’s bills to clients ordinarily included payment instructions directing clients to pay the firm by wire transfer or by sending checks to its headquarters in Chicago. However, on multiple occasions from 2004 through July 2012, Haber allegedly instead provided instructions to his clients directing them to send checks to him at the firm’s New York office.

Upon receiving those checks, Haber deposited a number of them into a bank account that he had opened in the name of a sham business whose name was very similar to Grant Thornton’s name, according to prosecutors. After depositing the clients’ checks into that account, he then transferred the money from that account to two personal bank accounts which he used to pay various personal expenses, including mortgage payments for his residence in Manhattan. He stole a total of nearly $4 million in client payments. Haber was arrested in February (see Former Grant Thornton Partner Arrested for Stealing $4 Million in Client Payments).

“Craig Haber committed a flagrant fraud against his accounting firm and its clients by directing millions of dollars in payments intended for the firm to his personal bank accounts,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “With his plea today, he joins the ranks of disgraced financial professionals who put their own interests before the organizations and clients they were supposed to serve.”

Haber faces up to 20 years in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Castel on December 13.

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