HOUSTON (CN) - An attorney and his wife swiped $9 million from his employer through fraudulent billings, spent the money on so many goodies they had to rent storage units to stash it all, then took it on the lam, the employer claims in court.
Tadano America Corp., a crane manufacturer, sued Susan Cardenas Chiofalo aka Susan Cardenas dba Seidner & Virdone LLP and Maio & Cardenas LLC, in Federal Court.
Cardenas is married to Anthony Chiofalo, Tadano America's former lawyer, according to the complaint.
"On June 7, 2012, Cardenas and Chiofalo were both charged with aggregate theft in excess of $200,000.00, a first degree felony, for stealing approximately $9 Million from TAC," the complaint states. "Cardenas was arrested, entered a not guilty plea, and posted bond. Chiofalo, in contrast, remains a fugitive and continues to evade arrest and personal service of process.
"TAC filed a civil action against Chiofalo on June 8, 2012, in Harris County District Court. The Harris County District Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order and a Temporary Injunction regarding the use or disposal of any assets that were owned and/or controlled by Chiofalo and/or 'his agents, servants, employees, attorneys and other persons in active concert or participation with him' until a trial on the merits. Cardenas received copies of the Temporary Restraining Order and Temporary Injunction through her criminal defense counsel. Despite the explicit terms of the Orders, Cardenas continued to spend, dispose of, and move money traceable to TAC's checks," according to the complaint.
It adds: "On Monday, November 12, 2012, the Harris County District Court entered an Interlocutory Default Judgment against Chiofalo."
TAC claims Chiofalo is a fugitive, and that Cardenas bought a one-way ticket to New York with a June 8 departure "for the purpose of joining Chiofalo and fleeing not only Texas but the United States."
But before she could leave, she was arrested and the Harris County District Attorney's Office charged her with stealing more than $200,000, TAC says.
TAC claims the couple turned to crime after rekindling a high school romance.
"Cardenas and Chiofalo met while in high school in New York City in the 1970s," the complaint states. "Cardenas and Chiofalo rekindled their relationship in the fall of 2006. The relationship culminated with Chiofalo moving in with Cardenas during the summer of 2007. Cardenas, who has a Ph.D. in Educational Administration, was teaching at Texas Women's University in Denton, Texas at that time.
"While living with Cardenas, Chiofalo began looking for a job in Texas.
"Chiofalo was also in the midst of a contested, costly divorce and child custody proceeding in New York. Cardenas was not only aware of Chiofalo's divorce, she actively participated in his defense by giving testimony in Chiofalo's support.
"While his divorce was proceeding, Chiofalo, between April 2006 and February 2007, filed three different voluntary bankruptcy petitions under Chapter 13 of the United States Bankruptcy Code.
"The first was filed in the Southern District of New York, while the second and third petitions were filed in the Central District of California. In the first petition, Chiofalo estimated his assets to be between '$0 to $50,000.'"
TAC says it hired Chiofalo in January 2009 as general manager of its legal affairs and human resources departments, with a starting salary of $110,000.