Former Austin Company CFO’s Ex-Husband Headed to Federal Prison and Ordered to Pay Over $20M in Restitution for Embezzlement Scheme
A federal judge sentenced Lakeway resident 49-year-old Robert “Scott” Villarreal to 87 months of imprisonment for a scheme to embezzle millions of dollars from a company headquartered in Austin where his ex-wife served as Chief Financial Officer.
During sentencing yesterday in Austin, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman also ordered the defendant to pay $15,941,452.87 in restitution to Richardson Enterprises, Ltd. (Richardson), which owns and operates automobile dealerships in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, and $4,243,649 in restitution to the IRS. The defendant and his ex-wife used the embezzled funds to support a lavish lifestyle.
According to court records, an investigation conducted by the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS CI) revealed that in 2009, Tamra Maurine Villarreal (aka Tamra Creighton Villarreal) and Scott Villarreal began stealing money from the company and using it for their personal benefit even though Tamra was paid an annual salary in excess of $400,000. The Villarreals used the stolen money to purchase a $2.7 million residence featured in the 2008 Parade of Homes. They also used the fraudulently obtained funds to pay for travel, hotels, restaurant tabs, vehicles, lavish jewelry, rare American coins from the 1800’s, gold bars, art, a collection of designer handbags and clothes valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars along with firearms and illegal controlled substances. During a four-day period from July 30, 2016 to August 2, 2016, Scott and Tamra Villarreal charged a total of $72,578.27 for three meals at a Houston restaurant on a company credit card. This amount was 13.6% of their reported income for 2016.
"Thanks to the efforts of the FBI and IRS CI, these defendants will no longer live an extravagant lifestyle paid for by their illegal fleecing of innocent victims. Instead, they will be held accountable for their crimes - by serving prison time and paying more than $20 million in restitution," said U.S. Attorney Hoff.
“Scott Villarreal’s life of luxury and extravagance, financed by shamelessly stealing millions of dollars from a business, has now come to an end, thanks to the hard work of the FBI, IRS CI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs, San Antonio Division. “While serving his lengthy prison sentence, the defendant will have plenty of time to contemplate the reality of his new life as a convicted felon.”
In April 2018, law enforcement executed a search warrant on the Lakeway residence and recovered many valuables purchased by the Villarreals during the scheme.
On August 18, 2020, Scott Villarreal pleaded guilty to a three-count Information charging him with money laundering, possession with the intent to distribute cocaine and making and subscribing to a false income tax return. By pleading guilty, Villarreal admitted that from 2009 to January 2018, he schemed to embezzle funds from Richardson bank accounts and used that money for personal enrichment. Specifically, Villarreal helped to divert monies from Richardson bank accounts to those belonging to him and his ex-wife.
Villarreal also admitted that he subscribed to a false 2013 federal income tax return wherein he and his spouse claimed $433,747 in earnings when in truth their income that year far exceeded that amount when the proceeds received from their fraud scheme were included.
“No matter what the source of income, all income is taxable, even embezzled income,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Richard D. Goss, Houston Field Office. “The prosecution of individuals who intentionally conceal their illegally obtained income and evade Federal income taxes, such as Mr. Villareal has done, is a vital element of IRS’ enforcement strategy.”
In December 2020, Judge Pitman sentenced Tamra Villarreal to 63 months imprisonment for her role in the same scheme as well as equal responsibility for $15,941,452.87 in restitution to the Richardson family and $4,243,649 in restitution to the IRS.
The FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation jointly investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michelle Fernald and Robert Almonte II prosecuted this case.