ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Anaheim Custom Extruders Inc. hopes to have a civil judgment against its ex-financial vice president by mid-February, after he pleaded guilty to stealing at least $120,000 from the company.
Russell D. Cuevas wrote checks from Anaheim Custom Extruders to a fictitious company, Newport Pacific Group, and also did not pay federal and state taxes for ACE, incurring financial penalties for the company, said Chuck Knight, a detective in the Anaheim police department.
Cuevas pleaded guilty to grand theft in an Orange County, Calif., court and was sentenced in August to 16 months in a state prison.
Company officials disclosed the case in mid-January.
The amount that Cuevas stole is in dispute. His lawyer in the criminal case, Thomas Kroopf in Irvine, Calif, said he admitted in court to $120,000, but company officials are seeking $326,000 in their civil suit — $179,000 they say they can prove was stolen and $147,000 in federal and state taxes and penalties ACE owes resulting from the theft.
Kroopf, who is not involved in the civil case, said ACE's civil claims are going beyond the $120,000 that was the basis of the criminal plea. Company officials said they uncovered more after the guilty plea.
The firm discovered the theft when an employee told company officials April 1 that she had given Cuevas cash receipts and they were never deposited in a company account, said William Czapar, president and chairman.
Czapar said he suspended Cuevas on April 3 and fired him at the end of April.
None of the money has been recovered, but Cuevas agreed to pay it back over time as part of the guilty plea, said ACE lawyer A. Lee Adair.
The company is seeking civil judgments in the Orange County Superior Court that will be bankruptcy-proof, and is trying to get a lien against Cuevas' house because the company has evidence that some of the funds went into home repairs, Adair said.
Cuevas also used company money to pay his personal income taxes, Adair said.
The thefts started in May 1995 and continued until spring of 1997, Adair said.
Cuevas never offered any explanation of the theft in court, Knight said.
Cuevas intercepted letters from tax authorities and paid them enough in back taxes to prevent problems from getting to the attention of other company officials, Czapar said.
Since the theft was uncovered, the small extrusion company, with $4.7 million in annual sales, saw its profit double in 1997, Czapar said.
Overall sales did not increase, but profit did, he said.
``We figure there was $150,000 a year going out of the company,'' Czapar said.