Attorney accused of $9 million theft from Houston company faces judge

January 7, 2013 4:16:39 PM PST
A man accused of spending millions of dollars of company funds on sports and comic memorabilia was in court Monday morning after six months on the run.

Wearing an orange Harris County Jail jumpsuit, Anthony Chiofalo finally went before a judge. The 51-year-old is charged with embezzling more than $9 million from his employer. He was on the run for months with loads of cash.

"He had $150,000 in cash, and had been on the run for seven months. Nobody knew where he was," said his attorney Paul Doyle.

Chiofalo was head of legal affairs for Tadano America. The northwest Houston company produces high-end commercial cranes. Prosecutors say Chiofalo created a fake law firm funneling away millions to his personal account.

"He was in a position of trust and took advantage of that trust, in his position as legal director," said Tadano America attorney Philip Hilder.

Prosecutors say Chiofalo was not even a licensed attorney.

"The defendant was previously licensed by the state of New York as an attorney, subsequently disbarred, moved here to Houston and created this fake law firm, charged the Tadano company for domestic legal representation to the tune of $9.3 million," said prosecutor Martina Longoria.

Investigators say Chiofalo spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on comic books and sports memorabilia. Most of it is now confiscated.

Tadana reps say he only turned himself because he knew law enforcement was on his trail in Newport, Rhode Island.

"If Mr. Chiofalo wanted to cooperate, he would have not fled and turned himself in seven months ago," Hilder said.

Chiofalo faces life up to life in prison for felony theft over $200,000. He's being held without bond. His wife Susan is also charged in the case.

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