Saturday, February 25, 2017

After Allegedly Looting Over $800K From Law Firm's Business Account, Office Manager Began Stealing Cash From Clients' Trust Account, Say Investigators

In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports:
  • The son of a partner in a Downtown law firm has been accused of stealing more than $800,000 from the firm by forging checks on its business account and using them for himself.

    Anthony Calaiaro, 33, of Castle Shannon was indicted Jan. 31 following an investigation by the FBI and Pittsburgh police. The case was unsealed Friday in U.S. District Court.

    A federal grand jury said that Mr. Calaiaro, the former office manager at bankruptcy law firm Calaiaro Valencik, did not have signatory authority over the firm’s business account but prepared checks payable to himself, forged partners’ signatures, forged endorsements and then cashed the checks.

    Prosecutors would not say what he did with the money.

    Mr. Calaiaro is the son of partner Donald Calaiaro and handled invoices and checks at the firm, among other duties.

    The grand jury said he pulled the scheme between June 2014 and April 2016 and covered his tracks by falsifying descriptions of the checks in the check register to make it seem as if they had been used to pay legitimate vendors.

    He prepared checks payable to himself totaling $827,020 drawn on the firm’s account at Allegheny Valley Bank, the indictment said.

    Toward the end of the scheme, between February and March 2016, the grand jury said he also prepared six checks totaling about $28,000 made payable to the law firm and drawn on the firm’s Interest on Lawyers Trust Account, or IOLTA, also at Allegheny Valley Bank. He forged a partner’s signature on those checks and then deposited them into the business account so he could keep writing checks on that account for himself, according to the grand jury.

    It’s not clear when the thefts were first discovered or why they weren’t noticed sooner.

    Mr. Caraiaro was arraigned Friday morning [February 3] in U.S. District Court and released on $25,000 bond. A public defender was appointed to represent him. The public defender’s office does not comment on pending cases, nor does the U.S. Attorney’s office.

    The law firm said in a statement that it has cooperated with federal investigators since April and its clients didn’t lose money.

    “This internal office matter has had no impact on our clients in any way,” the firm said.

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