Thursday, January 25, 2007

Did Anyone Notice the Bookkeeper's Lavish Lifestyle?

In the annals of embezzlement cases, this one certainly rates as one of the more audacious for the length of time over which it occurred and the lavish lifestyle the stolen money afforded.  The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts issued a press release (here) discussing the criminal information filed against Angela B. Platt, who worked as the staff accountant for a building materials company.  According to the charge, she embezzled $6.9 million over nearly seven years, starting with smaller checks ($2,000 to $5,000) deposited into an out-of-state account until the last couple years when they were in the $50,000 range.  More than just the amount taken is Platt's spending, which, as usual, includes a few rather cheesy items.  According to the press release, she purchased "A 104-acre ranch in West Haven, Vermont, on which she built a log cabin, with a heated saltwater swimming pool, and two barns, one of which housed a commercial-caliber arcade; A four-bedroom Colonial-style house on five acres of land in Foster, Rhode Island with a home movie theater; Thirty acres of undeveloped coastal land in Harrington, Maine; Timeshares in Disney World and at the Harborside Resort Condominium II on Paradise Island in the Bahamas; Eight show horses; Five all-terrain vehicles, five high-end snow mobiles, three commercial farm tractors and a motorcycle; A fleet of motor vehicles . . . "  The fleet, over twenty vehicles, included a "replica 1923 Ford Model-T customized into a novelty car dubbed the 'Green Goblin,' with a body fashioned as a green fairytale-looking monster."  Platt was also "[a] devoted Halloween enthusiast, [purchasing] various Hollywood-grade cinematic props to decorate her home for Halloween, including a twenty-foot tall, smoke-emitting dragon called 'The Slayer' which sported hydraulically-powered wings and a booming dragon roar. PLATT also purchased six talking trees like those in the Wizard of Oz, at a cost of $3,000 each, and a life-size ceramic statue of Al Capone (seated, smoking a cigar)."  I can't wait to see what these things fetch at the auction to repay the money embezzled from the company.  Somehow, I don't think her former employer should expect to receive much back as restitution; Wizard of Oz replicas just don't command top dollar any more.  If the "staff accountant" acquired over twenty vehicles, multiple houses, the Green Goblin and a dragon, could that be just a little bit of a tip-off that something might not be right with the books? (ph)

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