CPA Sentenced for Embezzling $2.8 Million from Employer
U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that MICHAEL SAPERA, age 55, a resident of Mandeville, was sentenced today after previously pleading guilty to a four-count Bill of Information charging him with bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, and wire fraud. These charges related to his embezzlement of approximately $2.8 million from his employer over a 19-year period.
U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon sentenced SAPERA to a total of 82 months in prison, composed of a term of 58 months as to the charges of bank fraud and wire fraud plus a consecutive term of 24 months for the charge of aggravated identity theft. In addition, the defendant was order to pay restitution in the total amount of $2,847,752, including $2,541,752 to victim Perlis, Inc. SAPERA was further sentenced to a three-year term of supervised release following his release from prison, and a $400 special assessment.
According to court documents, SAPERA, a Certified Public Accountant, was employed at Perlis, Inc., a retail clothing business headquartered in New Orleans, beginning in 1990. SAPERA most recently functioned as the Chief Financial Officer and Director of Information Technology for the company and thereby had access to various corporate bank accounts. As a part of his embezzlement scheme, SAPERA forged the signature of his employer on approximately 430 stolen corporate checks totaling $2,192,500, and then endorsed the checks to himself. SAPERA then deposited the stolen checks into his personal bank account. SAPERA also conducted 45 fraudulent wire transfers, totaling $582,080, from the company’s corporate bank account to his personal account without authorization, consent, or knowledge by the owners of the company. More recently, SAPERA also transferred $35,000 from the company’s corporate PayPal account to his personal PayPal account without authorization, consent, or knowledge by the owners of the company. In all, SAPERA’S criminal conduct resulted in an illegal gain to him in the amount of $2,809,580, and caused the company to incur a total loss for restitution purposes of $2,847,752.
U.S. Attorney Polite praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in investigating this matter. Assistant United States Attorney Michael B. Redmann was in charge of the prosecution.