Ex-Controller for Anaheim Companies Gets 5 Years for Embezzlement

Businessman Slipping a Stack of Cash into His Suit Pocket

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SANTA ANA (CNS) - A former controller for two Anaheim-based companies was sentenced Monday to more than five years in federal prison for embezzling about $3 million.

Rosalba Meza, 48, of Dana Point, pleaded guilty Dec. 12 to embezzlement, cheating on her taxes and fraudulently applying for Paycheck Protection Program relief during the COVID-19 pandemic,  receiving $20,569, prosecutors said.

U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney, who sentenced Meza to 63 months in prison, also ordered her to pay $4,192,470 in restitution.

Meza held various positions at Anaheim-based Trilogy Plumbing Inc. from 2003 through January 2020, embezzling the money from around 2017 through 2020 when she was fired, prosecutors said. Her annual salary was about $65,000, according to prosecutors.

Meza told executives in February 2019 that Trilogy Plumbing Inc. and Matrix Management failed to make payroll, prosecutors said. In April 2019 the companies came under IRS scrutiny for unpaid payroll taxes, prosecutors said.

Meza falsely told her bosses that she did not pay the quarterly payroll taxes to instead cover payroll, prosecutors said. Meza, however, had taken the money for herself, prosecutors said.

"She stole the funds through hundreds of unauthorized wire transfers she made from the companies' bank accounts to bank accounts she owned or controlled," prosecutors said in a sentencing brief.

"Defendant then used the stolen money for personal expenses, which included more than $1 million in cash withdrawals at bank branches and ATMs in the United States and Mexico, in addition to transferring more than $1 million to bank accounts owned or controlled by her family members in the United States and Mexico."

She cheated the government out of about $1.1 million in taxes, prosecutors said.

"Finally, after defendant's embezzlement scheme was uncovered and her employment was terminated, defendant engaged in a fraudulent loan scheme," prosecutors said.

The sentencing guidelines called for a punishment of 51 to 63 months.

Meza's "crimes were extremely egregious, longstanding, harmful, and motivated by selfish greed," prosecutors said.

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