Partner’s son admits taking $827,000 from law practice
The son of a partner at a Downtown bankruptcy law firm admitted Wednesday that he embezzled $827,000 from the practice while working as the office manager, but he said he didn’t remember all the details because he was on drugs.
Anthony Calaiaro, 34, of Castle Shannon, pleaded guilty to bank fraud before U.S. District Judge David Cercone, admitting that he forged checks on the Allegheny Valley Bank business account of Calaiaro Valencik and used them for himself.
He had been indicted last year following an investigation by the FBI and Pittsburgh police, who got involved after the bank handling the firm’s account saw suspicious activity and alerted the partners.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Karl said Mr. Calaiaro, son of partner Donald Calaiaro, handled invoices, checks and payroll, but he didn’t have signatory authority over the business account.
So he forged the name of a partner and made some 500 checks payable to himself between June 2014 and April 2016.
He then falsified the descriptions for the checks in the check register to conceal his thefts, making it look like the checks had been used to pay vendors.
Near the end of the scheme, Mr. Calaiaro also prepared six checks totaling $28,000 made payable to the law firm and drawn on the firm’s Interest on Lawyers Trust Account at Allegheny Valley Bank.
He forged a signature on the checks and deposited them into the business account so he could continue writing checks for himself.
After Mr. Karl read a description of his crimes, the judge asked Mr. Calaiaro if he agreed. He and his lawyer, Linda Cohn, said he’d been on drugs at the time so couldn’t recall all that had happened. He had made a confession to the FBI, acknowledging that he had stolen money, but he wasn’t sure of how much he’d taken or how many checks he’d deposited.
“I just don’t remember,” he told the judge.
“He was surprised at the amount,” Ms. Cohn said.
No one from the law firm was in court, and Mr. Calaiaro’s father did not appear. But the firm had previously said in a statement that it cooperated with the FBI and that its clients did not lose any money.
Judge Cercone set sentencing for June 22.