White-Collar Crime

In-House Legal Chief Is Accused of Creating Fake Law Firm and Sending It $9M in Payments

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A suspended New York lawyer is accused of creating a fictitious Texas law firm and then using his position as legal affairs chief at a Houston company to funnel $9 million in payments to the fake legal counsel.

Anthony Chiofalo and his wife, Susan, face felony theft charges, according to documents filed in Harris County District Court. She being held on $18 million bond, but he is at large, according to the Houston Chronicle and KTRK.

KHOU also has a story.

Tadano America Corp. reportedly believed that Chiofalo’s license was in good standing as he oversaw the hydraulic crane manufacturer’s human resources department and legal work, which included hiring outside counsel and approving payments to law firms.

The fictitious Maio & Cardenas law firm used a rental mailbox at a retail store as its address.

A total of $9,329,546 in checks from Tadano was deposited into a bank account controlled by Chiofalo, according to a certified fraud examiner hired by the corporation.

The articles don’t include any comment from Chiofalo, his wife or their legal counsel.

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