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Press Release

Former Payroll Clerk at Two Family-Owned Businesses Agrees to Plead Guilty to Wire Fraud Charge in $2 Million Embezzlement

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of California

          LOS ANGELES – A longtime employee of two Los Angeles-area businesses involved in earring manufacturing was charged today with wire fraud for stealing approximately $2 million from the companies.

          In conjunction with the case filed today, Claudia Alvarez Calderon, 45, of La Crescenta, agreed to plead guilty to the wire fraud charge.

          In a plea agreement filed today in United States District Court, Calderon admitted that she used the names of several non-existent or former employees who were no longer entitled to receive pay to fraudulently obtain wages and expense reimbursements from Onyx, Inc., a Harbor City-based manufacturer of earrings and ear piercing equipment, and Quadrtech, Inc., a Gardena-based company that finished and packaged the earrings and ear-piercing systems.

          “At times, defendant would cause deposits of up to four fake employees into one bank account in her own name,” according to the plea agreement. “These direct deposits were often over $18,000 a month, and sometimes as high as $28,000 a month.”

          Over the course of nearly a decade, Calderon fraudulently entered information into a computer system that caused Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP) to make direct deposits or issue checks for the bogus employees. Calderon maintained several bank accounts to receive the money from Onyx and Quadrtech.

          “Calderon stole money from her longtime employers to support a lifestyle that included multiple daily trips to restaurants, trips to Europe and Hawaii, cosmetic surgery and furnishing a second home in Florida,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Calderon’s violation of her employers’ trust cost the companies millions, money that should have gone to the companies and their employees.”

          Over the course of her scheme, Calderon fraudulently obtained approximately $2 million from Onyx and Quadrtech.

          Calderon will be directed to appear in United States District Court in Los Angeles, likely on August 8.

          “Our trusted private sector partnerships led to a thorough investigation culminating in the perpetrator’s guilty plea. Would-be fraudsters should be deterred from plotting similar schemes,” said L. Robert Savage, U.S. Secret Service Special Agent in Charge of the Los Angeles Field Office.

          The charge of wire fraud carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

          This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service.

          This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ruth C. Pinkel of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section.

Updated May 7, 2018

Press Release Number: 16-174