Tadano America comic book embezzler named one of top 10 costliest frauds

Marcia Gruver Doyle Pix

The $9.3 million embezzlement by the former head of legal affairs and human resources at Tadano America was among the top 10 costliest embezzlements reported in the 2013 Marquet Report on Embezzlement, released last Friday.

The Marquet report delves into white collar fraud on cases where at least $100,000 was alleged to have been misappropriated. Each case was active during 2013.

Anthony Chiofalo, who received a 40-year sentence this past May for the Tadano fraud, perpetrated the eighth costliest embezzlement listed in the 2013 report.  According to the Law360 website, while working as head of legal affairs and human resources for crane-maker Tadano, Chiofalo funneled legal payments to a fake law firm, Maio & Cardenas LLC. He then used part of the money to fill up seven storage units with paintings, sculptures and sports memorabilia, including a robe once used by Mohamed Ali.

Armed with a search warrant, police went into Califano’s home and found “piles of unopened memorabilia” addressed to the fake firm. But the collectable mentioned the most in news accounts of the fraud was a first-edition Batman comic worth $900,000.

detective-comics27The Batman comic proved to be so fascinating it prompted evidence theft: two Harris County, Texas, investigators on the case, Lonnie Blevins and Dustin Deutsch, were later charged with stealing several comics from the seized assets, including the Batman and a $300,000 Green Lantern. The theft was discovered after Blevins attended a comic convention in Chicago and sold some of the pricey comics at cut rates, says Courthouse News Service.

According to Law360, Tadano was able to recover around $5 million from Chiofalo. Tadano found the fraud and fired Chiofalo in mid-2012 after it grew suspicious over excessive legal fees. This May, Tadano’s attorney said the company was satisfied with the 40-year sentence and was “ready to move on.”

Tadano, however, is not ready to move on about the stolen comics. Last week the company sued Harris County and its District Attorney’s Office, charging they failed to safeguard the seized assets. The company won an earlier $8.9 million civil judgment against Chiofalo that gives it the right to any property bought with stolen funds.

In the 2013 Marquet report, 554 then-active cases were reviewed, the highest number since the study started six years ago and nearly 5 percent more than reported in 2012. Losses from the 554 cases examined totaled nearly $595 million in employee theft. Use this link to request a copy of the full report.