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A 45-year-old woman accused of embezzling more than $5 million dollars made a plea deal in San Diego’s North County courthouse yesterday morning, March 6, 2013.

Elizabeth Ann Masters pleaded guilty to grand theft, forgery, theft by false pretenses, and filing a false tax return, according to a prosecutor.

“She also admitted the great taking allegation,” said Deputy District Attorney Anna Winn, which means Elizabeth Masters admitted stealing more than $3.2 million. The larcenous bookkeeper also admitted a “white collar crime” enhancement, the prosecutor said. In the deal, Masters expects 9 years prison, the prosecutor said.

Masters was the financial controller of a San Marcos company, a clothing business, for nine years, according to a statement by Sheriff’s investigators. During that time Masters forged checks to herself and purchased a horse ranch in neighboring Riverside County, eventually acquiring more than 100 horses, according to investigators. “Her crimes were discovered during an audit,” according to Sergeant Mark Varnau. He stated the bookkeeper “fled from California.”

Elizabeth Ann Masters was captured as a fugitive in New Mexico in June 2012, and was arraigned on felony fraud charges in San Diego County in July 2012.

When asked if the embezzled company can expect restitution, the prosecutor was not hopeful. “The victims will have a recordable judgment for the full amount of their loss,” said Anna Winn. “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.”

Elizabeth Ann Masters expects to be sentenced to nine years in prison at her next court appearance, set for April 15, 2013.

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Visduh March 7, 2013 @ 8:26 p.m.

Where did the Reader come up with that headshot? Forty five years old going on 60, with baggy eyes, puffy face, neck wrinkles, and a gaze that could bore through a brick wall. Would you turn your back on that woman?

How these rip-off artists can take millions from going businesses while the operations can still open their doors and pay their employees is a mystery to me. Some of them have to be wildly profitable, and yet their owners and operators don't know it, and don't question why the company is short of funds. Just another one of a series of such crimes, and the eternal questions of how and why.


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