The former chief financial officer of a Middleborough-based shoe company was federally charged Wednesday and agreed to plead guilty to embezzling about $30 million from the company.
Richard Hajjar, formerly of Alden Shoe Co., agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud, unlawful monetary transactions and filing a false tax return. A plea hearing has not yet been scheduled.
Hijjar, 64 of Duxbury, was fired from Alden Shoe Co. in 2019 after he embezzled money from company accounts to his personal accounts and to another individual, authorities said.
According to the complaint, Hajjar purchased two pairs of earrings that totaled nearly $200,000 and two diamond rings that cost $241,000 for a person who is listed as “Individual 1.” A civil lawsuit filed by Alden Shoe Co. Inc., names former Boston news anchor Bianca de la Garza as the recipient.
Court documents also show that Hajjar paid $114,000 for private flights for the person to go to St. Maarten and Anguilla. Based on the shoe company’s civil lawsuit, that person again appears to be de la Garza.
Hajjar’s scheme, court documents said, began in 2011, when he wrote himself eight checks worth $585,000. The following year, court documents said, he wrote himself 17 checks totally more than $1.2 million.
Hajjar transferred even larger sums of money into his accounts. In 2014 and 2015 alone he transferred more than 11.3 million into his accounts.
Authorities said between 2014 and 2019, Hajjar also failed to report the proceeds of his embezzlement as income on his tax returns, thereby failing to pay approximately $5,112,822 in taxes to the Internal Revenue Service.
The most serious charges against Hajjar carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of at least $250,000.
In June 2020, Alden Shoe Co. filed a civil lawsuit in connection with the theft of the money, stating Hajjar used some of the stolen cash to bankroll de la Garza’s production company.
Middleborough-based Alden Shoe Co. Inc. claims in a new lawsuit that former local news anchor Bianca de la Garza was given more than $15 million of the company’s money by its former chief financial officer, who allegedly stole the funds over a period of years.
The shoe manufacturer seeks the return of the money from de la Garza as well as monetary damages, according to the civil suit, filed earlier this month in Suffolk County Superior Court.
Alden’s longtime CFO, Richard Hajjar, stole more than $20 million from Alden over eight years, a theft the company did not discover until late 2019, the lawsuit said. Hajjar allegedly gave much of the money to de la Garza, who he had met around 2012, when she was still a well-known anchor at WCVB. The two became close friends and vacationed together often, the suit said.
Hajjar and de la Garza could not immediately be reached for comment.
According to the lawsuit, much of the stolen money went to Lucky Gal Productions LLC, de la Garza’s company that produced her since-canceled, post-WCVB TV show, as well as to BDG Enterprises, which she has used to operate a fashion business.
Some of the money was used to buy de la Garza a co-op apartment in New York City, a Mercedes-Benz, a $158,000 diamond ring, and more luxury goods, according to the lawsuit. It also went towards a personal shopper for de la Garza at Neiman Marcus, who bought designer clothing and other items at a cost of sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars a month, the suit said.
Hajjar worked at the family-run Alden for three decades, according to the lawsuit. His father had been accountant to the father of Arthur Tarlow Jr., who is now Alden’s president.null
The lawsuit details several methods that Hajjar allegedly used to secretly siphon out millions of dollars from the shoe company. For instance, Hajjar drew down $8 million from a line of credit he had opened at Bank of America in Alden’s name, the lawsuit said. He wrote checks to himself from another bank account that held Alden’s retained earnings, according to the suit.
Alden’s management learned of the alleged theft after Tarlow asked Hajjar last year to help move some of the retained earnings into family trusts, the lawsuit said. After repeated delay, Hajjar told Tarlow he would have the money transferred, and then stopped showing up to work because he supposedly did not feel well, before stopping communicating with Tarlow altogether, the suit said.
Categories: Richard Hajjar Former CFO Alden Shoe Co