The ex-controller of auto dealership Baierl Acura in Wexford, Pennsylvania, has been sentenced to 78 months in prison after pleading guilty to embezzling $10 million from her former employer.
Patricia Smith stole money from Baierl Acura by transferring funds from the company's payroll account to her own personal bank accounts over a period of seven years, according to Automotive News. In order to cover up the over 800 illegal transactions, Smith created fraudulent bank statements and inventory records for the dealership's financial records. She told her family and friends that investments in airline stock and online work as a travel agent were the actions which yielded the large amounts of money. The website states that Smith unexpectedly quit her position last summer and subsequently confessed to Baierl about the embezzlement.
ABC News reports that a recovery audit conducted after Smith's confession found that approximately $10,349,569 was stolen, and she has been ordered to pay back the full amount in restitution. However, prosecutors believe only about $1 million will actually be recovered, says the news source. Investigators say she also hid the thefts from her employers by listing already sold cars in the dealership's inventory in order for them to recorded as assets.
Smith spent the embezzled funds on a variety of things, including private jet charters, celebrity luncheons and dinners, VIP tour of the Vatican and Mass with the Pope, says ABC. She also bought an autographed first edition Harry Potter book and 2011 Super Bowl tickets among other expensive purchases. Smith even bestowed gifts on her family by including cars that had already been sold in the dealership's inventory, skewing the true record of assets.
Automotive News reports that Smith will begin her sentence in July and that her family has already begun to forfeit the goods purchased in order to pay back some of the stolen money.