- The former CFO of a Massachusetts shoe company pleaded guilty to a $30 million embezzlement scheme.
- 64-year-old Richard Hajjar bought private flights to the Caribbean and diamonds with the money.
- The company, Alden Shoe Co., terminated Hajjar in October 2019.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The former chief financial officer of a Massachusetts shoe company pleaded guilty to embezzling $30 million from the business over the course of several years, according to a statement from the Department of Justice.
When 64-year-old Richard Hajjar was the CFO for Alden Shoe Co., he wrote checks to himself from the company and transferred business funds to his personal accounts, the DOJ said.
He used the money to “enrich himself” by buying “gifts and luxury travel for others close to him, including private flights to the Caribbean and diamond jewelry,” the Wednesday statement said.
In a civil lawsuit from Alden, the company said Hajjar spent some of the money on Bianca de la Garza, a Boston-based news anchor whom he’d developed a romantic relationship with at the time.
“They vacationed together often. And Mr. Hajjar purchased gifts for Ms. de la Garza worth hundreds of thousands of dollars,” the lawsuit filed in Suffolk County Superior Court read.
In total, Hajjar transferred about half, or $15 million, of the embezzled funds to de la Garza, and at one point purchased her a million-dollar co-op in New York City.
The scheme lasted from about 2011 to October 2019, when the company terminated him. Alden, a 137-year-old family-owned luxury men’s shoe-maker, did not respond to Insider’s request for comment on the story.
Before being terminated, Hajjar was Alden’s vice president and corporate secretary, a member of the board of directors, and the CFO.
According to the civil lawsuit, Hajjar worked at Alden for 30 years and became “a trusted advisor to the Tarlow family and a key employee at Alden.”
His lead attorney, Daniel Conley, of the Boston law firm Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, PC, said Hajjar had more than just an employee-employer relationship with the company.
“He’s remorseful, very remorseful, and has accepted full responsibility for his actions,” Conley said to Insider Friday.
In the criminal case against him, Hajjar pleaded guilty to wire fraud, unlawful monetary transactions, and filing a false tax return, in which he didn’t claim the income from the embezzled funds. The charges come with 20-, 10-, and 3-year prison sentences, respectively, along with fines, according to the Justice Department statement.
The court, however, has conditionally accepted a range of 48 to 72 months in federal prison, which the judge will consider at the sentencing hearing on Sept. 15.
Conley said he’s hopeful that in sentencing the judge “considers the fact that Mr. Hajjar accepted full responsibility, is very sorry for his actions, and has returned millions of dollars,” totaling $4.5 million.