HOUSTON—A married couple has been accused of stealing more than $9 million from a local company and using it to purchase almost $2 million in merchandise from an auction house.
Susan Chiofalo and Anthony Chiofalo have been charged with aggregate theft, a felony.
Anthony Chiofalo was hired at Tadano America Corporation on January 20, 2009 as head of the company’s legal affairs and human resources department. According to TAC, he was responsible for contracting with outside law firms to represent the company and approving payment for legal services.
Anthony was licensed to practice law in New York, where he was suspended from practice for two year starting in October 2010, according to police. TAC believed Chiofalo to be licensed during the time of his employment.
According to court documents, Chiofalo created a fictitious law firm called Maio & Cardenas, L.L.C. and registered it to an address that police discovered to be a mailing retail store and not a law firm.
Chiofalo allegedly made a series of checks payable to Maio & Cardenas L.L.C. to be issued by TAC starting on May 6, 2011 and ending on May 11, 2012 despite the fact that the law firm does not exist and never performed any legal work for the corporation.
All the checks were allegedly deposited into an account at Amegy bank and totaled $9,329,546.81.
Investigators say that several wire transfers totaling $1,888,777.94 were made to Heritage Auctions from the Amegy account held by Anthony Chiofalo. The money was used to purchase numerous paintings, sculptures, photographs, comic books and collectables, according to police.
Investigators say they received an anonymous tip that Susan Chiofalo had purchased a one-way ticket to New York leaving June 8, 2012.
They executed a search warrant on June 7 at the Chiofalo residence on the 5800 block of Oakmoss and allegedly found financial documents containing the names of Susan Chiofalo, Anthony Chiofalo and Maio & Cardenas. Police say they also found boxes and invoices from Maio & Cardenas inside the residence.
Susan Chiofalo is in custody and told police she had not seen her husband in four weeks. He was at large on Monday morning.