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Press Release

San Francisco Man Charged With Tax Evasion And Embezzling $2.7 Million From San Francisco Company

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California
Former Senior Vice President of Finance used the company’s payroll software to inflate his paychecks for more than eight years and to conceal proceeds from the IRS

SAN FRANCISCO - A federal grand jury in San Francisco indicted Aubrey Jackson Shelton II with bank fraud, wire fraud, and tax evasion in connection with his scheme to embezzle more than $2.7 million from his employer, a San Francisco technology company, announced United States Attorney Ismail J. Ramsey and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Darren Lian. Shelton was arrested today and appeared in federal court to face the charges.

According to the indictment, filed August 15, 2023, and unsealed today, Shelton, of San Francisco, Calif., allegedly embezzled approximately $2.7 million from his employer, a San Francisco-based automobile services and technology company where Shelton worked as the Senior Vice President of Finance. According to the indictment, from November 2013 and through December 2021, Shelton used his exclusive control over the company’s payroll processing software to inflate his salary and bonuses over the authorized amounts and to direct the payroll processor to cause the company to pay him large amounts categorized as “Executive Loan,” “Misc Reimbursement,” “Mileage Reimbursement,” or other reimbursements that were not authorized or expended by Shelton.

In November 2013, Shelton submitted false information to the payroll processor about his salary, causing the gross amount to double despite the fact that his authorized salary had not changed. Then, in 2014, Shelton falsely submitted to the payroll processor that he was entitled to $5,000 mileage reimbursements on twelve consecutive semi-monthly paychecks while reducing his gross salary to the authorized amount. Shelton’s use of mileage reimbursement rather than increased salary resulted in less tax being withheld from his paycheck and the embezzled amounts not being reported to the IRS. Shelton then began submitting false information to the payroll processor claiming he was entitled to amounts described as “Executive Loan” and, later, amounts described as “Misc Reimbursement,” including during irregular payroll cycle runs. During this time, Shelton again increased his salary above the authorized amount and defrauded the company of even more money through misuse of the “Executive Loan” and reimbursement payment categories. Taxes were not withheld from both of these categories, nor were the amounts reported to the IRS. To accomplish his scheme, Shelton submitted false payroll approval documentation to the company’s CEO and submitted false payroll information to auditors, in addition to the false information he submitted to the payroll processor in connection with processing payroll. Shelton submitted false tax returns to the IRS that falsely reported his income by not including the amounts he embezzled from the company.

In sum, the indictment charges Shelton with three counts of bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344(2); five counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343; and four counts of tax evasion in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7201. Shelton was scheduled to appear today in court for identification of counsel and his initial San Francisco federal district court appearance is scheduled for October 18, 2023.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, Shelton faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, and a fine of $1,000,000, plus restitution, if appropriate, for each violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344. Shelton faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution, if appropriate, for each violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343. Shelton faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and a fine of $100,000 for each violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7201. The court also may order an additional term of supervised release to begin after a prison term as part of any sentence. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Noah Stern is prosecuting the case, with the assistance of Elizabeth Kim. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.

Updated August 25, 2023