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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Jersey

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

California CPA Sentenced To 57 Months In Prison For Defrauding New Jersey Religious Center, California Non-Profit Out Of More Than $4 Million

NEWARK, N.J. – A California CPA was sentenced today to 57 months in prison for abusing his positions at a worship center in New Jersey and a non-profit in California to steal more than $4 million, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced. 

Donald Gridiron, 51, of Pomona, California, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty to an information charging him with one count of wire fraud and one count of filing a false tax return. Judge McNulty imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:

A religious facility located in Rahway, New Jersey, hired Gridiron based, in part, on his connections with individuals in the religious community as well as his standing within that community. The religious facility agreed to pay Gridiron a monthly salary and reimburse him for reasonable expenses related to his work. In addition, Gridiron was the treasurer for a non-profit entity registered in California.

Gridiron used his employment with the worship center and his status with the non-profit to illegally syphon money without their consent or authorization. In total, Gridiron transferred more than $4 million to accounts he controlled. Gridiron then used the funds for his own use, including mortgage payments, luxury car payments and gambling expenses. Gridiron also failed to report this income on his tax returns, including $950,000 he stole during the 2011 tax year.

In addition to the prison term, Judge McNulty sentenced Gridiron to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution of approximately $5.16 million ($4,815,964 to the worship center, including $200,000 to insurers who have paid the worship center; and $348,450 to the foundation.)

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark, and law enforcement officers of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Kogan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.

Defense counsel: Candace Hom Esq., Newark, New Jersey

Updated April 5, 2016