Former accountant at San Diego metal company gets two years for embezzlement

Posted at 5:59 PM, Apr 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-08 15:23:29-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A former accountant for a San Diego-based metals company was handed a two-year prison sentence Friday for stealing millions of dollars from the firm, which he used to fund a lavish lifestyle.

Edward K. Abellana, 40, pleaded guilty in January to wire fraud and filing false tax returns.

U.S. District Court Judge Janis Sammartino ordered Abellana to repay more than $1.9 million to Argen Corp. and pay about $661,000 to the Internal Revenue Service for unpaid taxes on the money he embezzled from Argen.

"Individuals thinking about participating in embezzlement schemes should stop in their tracks and simply look at the consequences of taking the next step," said R. Damon Rowe, Special Agent in Charge for IRS Criminal Investigations.

"As Mr. Abellana learned today, those consequences include going to prison, being branded a convicted felon and paying back all the taxes owed plus steep penalties and interest on the unreported income," Rowe said.

Abellana worked as the accounts payable supervisor for Argen from December until October 2015.

While overseeing the company's credit card accounts, Abellana used his access to embezzle about $1.9 million, which he used to rent private jets, fund luxury vacations to Hawaii, Las Vegas and Disneyland, and pay for a trip to the Super Bowl and other sporting events.

Abellana admitted that he charged more than $70,000 to charter a private jet to take him, his family and friends to Hawaii.

On most occasions, Abellana would simply use the firm's credit cards to make his lavish purchases, though he also issued more than $162,000 in unauthorized company checks to pay for personal expenses, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Diego.

To conceal his fraud, the defendant intercepted the incriminating statements and used computer software to alter them, then falsified the company's records by falsely characterizing the illicit transactions as legitimate business expenses, prosecutors said.

Additionally, Abellana admitted that he failed to report more than $661,000 on his 2012-2015 tax returns.

Abellana was ordered to self-surrender on June 2.