Saturday, April 20, 2013

Former Pizza Manager In California Arrested After 2 Year Investigation Alleging He Embezzled More Than $1.3 Million From Restaurant

From the Murrietta Patch on 4/19/13:

Robert Glenn Stiles

Pizza Manager Suspected of Embezzling $1.3M

By Maggie Avants
April 19, 2013

MURRIETA, CA -- The former manager of a popular Murrieta pizza restaurant has been charged with felony embezzlement following nearly two years of investigation, it was announced Friday.

Robert "Bob" Glenn Stiles, 61, was arrested Thursday at his residence in the 24700 block of 2nd Street in Murrieta on suspicion of embezzling more than $1.3 million from Bob's Murrieta Pizza Company, according to a news release issued Friday by police.

The investigation into Stiles' alleged theft from the restaurant at 41860 Kalmia Street, Suite 103, began in June 2011.

Stiles' role in the business was operations manager, as well as minority partner/investor, stated Murrieta police Lt. Tony Conrad.

"After a preliminary investigation, Murrieta police Detective Jeff Ullrich was assigned the case," Conrad stated. "Over the course of the next 18 months, numerous search warrants were served at several locations including business and personal bank accounts."

A forensic audit examining all financial records for Bob's Murrieta Pizza Company was conducted by Detective Ullrich and a certified public accountant.

"The audit revealed Mr. Stiles took out several unauthorized personal loans with business funds and also misappropriated a large sum of money in the form of cash and checks from the business. The total suspected embezzled amount reached more than $1.3 million," Conrad stated.

This month, Conrad stated Riverside County District Attorney's Office agreed to file felony embezzlement related charges against Stiles.

On Thursday, Murrieta police detectives took Stiles into custody without incident.

Stiles is being held in lieu of $1.39 million bail at Southwest Detention Center near Murrieta.

Arrest charges include four counts of forgery, four counts of using another person's identity to obtain credit, and six counts of grand theft with a sentencing-enhancing charge of allegedly taking more than $1 million in property.

The Investigation
According to an affidavit filed by Detective Ullrich, the alleged wrongdoing came to the attention of police in spring 2011 when a majority shareholder of Bob's Murrieta Pizza Company, Linda Everson, came to the front counter of the police department.

"...Everson told [an officer] that she and the other group of shareholders suspected Robert Stiles was taking money from the business over the last four years and applying for lines of credit without her or the other shareholders' knowledge," Ullrich wrote.

Everson and her husband put up $200,000 of their own money to open the business in 2007.
Stiles at that point had 12-percent ownership of Lazlo Fine Foods, the company that owned and operated Bob's. Stiles put up no cash, but had all the sports contacts in the valley, Everson told police.

Based on their suspicions, the shareholders—minus Stiles—met in April 2011 and took over all operations of Bob's.

In May 2011, Stiles was officially terminated as the manager of Bob's because of financial problems with the business, Ullrich wrote.

In the meantime, a forensic audit was conducted by a Murrieta accountant, which revealed much of the suspected wrongdoing.

Everson brought forth evidence that during the four years Stiles managed the restaurant, he had allegedly applied for loans with her signature, social security number and the company's tax identification number, amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The property was under notice of foreclosure because the monthly rent of $13,100 had not been paid and was at least three months delinquent, wrote Ullrich. Several eviction notices dated back as far as 2008 for the property.

It was also alleged that Stiles failed to make payments to the IRS and State Franchise Tax Board, and that he had failed to take employee deductions for unemployment since 2008. The company was also behind in payments to the State Board of Equalization.

In September 2012, in an effort to further prove their suspicions, the company hired a Nebraska firm to conduct another forensic audit.

According to Ullrich, the firm notified him in October 2012 that an estimated $1.2 million was missing from the restaurant's accounts; however, the firm stated only $640,000 could be proven as solid evidence that Stiles, without shareholders' authorization, had allegedly written checks or diverted company funds into his personal accounts or third-party accounts.

The Murrieta Police Department Detective Bureau then submitted a request to search the business records of Bank of America, 23781 Washington Ave., Murrieta, for all transactions related to Stiles and accounts registered in his name.

Bob's Murrieta Pizza Company was reorganized in 2011, when it became Maxx Pizza Co. It has since remained in operation at the Kalmia Street location.

Stiles is due in court Monday.

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