Joseph O'Brien 2 p.m., Nov. 22
Victim of $5 million embezzlement speaks to the judge
Thieving bookeeper sentenced to 9 years State prison this afternoon
A woman hinted that her family’s business will not survive the dishonest bookkeeper who embezzled more than $5 million from their company in San Marcos.
One of the owners of Proformance Apparel said that more than 90 people who worked for the company are now “devastated.” Debbie Sawyer, 60, and her husband Richard Sawyer, 74, came to San Diego’s North County Courthouse to see the former financial officer for their company sentenced to nine years State prison this afternoon, April 15, 2013.
Elizabeth Ann Masters, 45, last month admitted stealing millions from the company in a plea deal.
Debbie Sawyer spoke to the judge for ten minutes before sentence was pronounced. Sawyer expressed shock at Elizabeth Masters’ betrayal. “She was a guest at my daughter’s wedding!”
Elizabeth Masters stood in a holding cell with her head bowed, she never looked up and she never spoke. Debbie Sawyer said, “She built a false sense of friendship. As I think back, I cannot believe how easily she deceived all of us.”
“It is clear to me, I have been very, very wrong about this woman, the entire time she worked for Proformance.”
“Masters started stealing and lying right from the beginning. She had been working at Proformance for just one week when she fraudulently wrote her first expense check to herself, and continued to embezzle funds for the next ten years. Only to enrich her life, the life of a drug-dependent husband, her parents, her horse ranch of 80 horses, while destroying the lives of the victims.”
“It is clear to me that Masters planned to bankrupt the company.”
Debbie Sawyer’s voice cracked when she told the court, “Everything we worked for the past 30 years is now gone.” Debbie Sawyer was tearful when she described herself, “I am a sixty-year-old elementary school teacher.”
“All of our personal assets and savings have gone to keep the company afloat. And it continues to be very, very difficult. Actually impossible.”
“Actually, we are left without any financial stability. And it scares me.”
“The real consequences of Liz Master’s crimes have been felt by everybody except Liz Masters.”
Judge David L. Berry today sentenced Masters to nine years State prison. And he ordered Elizabeth Masters to pay $5,742,599 restitution to her victim, and $654,646 to the “Franchise Tax Board” of the State of California.
Elizabeth Masters admitted grand theft and forgery and filing a false tax return, according to prosecutor Anna Winn. “The victims will have a recordable judgment for the full amount of their loss, but I do not believe there are any outstanding assets to reimburse them for their loss. All evidence suggests that all the stolen money is gone,” the prosecutor said.
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- Dishonest pizzeria bookkeeper gets four years prison — Aug. 21, 2013
- San Marcos bookkeeper admits embezzling millions — March 7, 2013
- Woman sentenced to ten years for fatal DUI crash — Feb. 2, 2013
- California Fugitive Arrested in New Mexico — June 23, 2012