Part­ner’s son ad­mits tak­ing $827,000 from law practice

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - News obituaries - By Torsten Ove Torsten Ove: tove@postgazette.com.

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.

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