Woman accused of embezzling $3 million; attorney says not true - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Woman accused of embezzling $3 million; attorney says not true

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - San Diego police have arrested a woman accused of embezzling more than $3 million from a now-defunct La Jolla nightclub.

Thirty-nine-year-old Tara Moore was arrested Wednesday on charges of grand theft, following a one year investigation.

Police say Moore embezzled the money while working as a bookkeeper at Jack's La Jolla - a nightclub that closed down in August 2009 as a direct result of the theft.

"Once they finally peeled back their accounting they realized they've had an employee, in this case Tara Moore, who had been embezzling," said Lt. James Filley, SDPD Economics Division.

He added that the investigation revealed that Moore used as a variety of accounts to funnel money from Jack's for her own personal gain.

The year long investigation ended with a search warrant served Wednesday at Moore's Plumosa Drive home.  Police say they believe items recovered were bought with the money embezzled from Jack's La Jolla.

"In this case very high end furniture, she had Italian curtains that were five or six thousand dollars a panel. Things to my eye seemed very expensive," explained Filley.

However, Moore's attorney Paul Pfingst says his client is an innocent women whose in jail for a crime she didn't commit.  He adds that he has more than two-thousand pages of pages of proof to show her innocence.

"Not a single item taken from the home was worth more than 500 dollars," said Pfingst.

He says appraisers recently went through the home as part of Moore filing bankruptcy, and it's why thousands of financial records were ready and handed over to the DA and investigators Thursday.

Pfingst says Moore is no thief -- she was just reimbursing herself for her own money she fronted to keep the business afloat.

Documentation Attorney Paul Pfingst showed to CBS8 indicated that Moore had put over $5.5-Million dollars of her own money into Jack's La Jolla business deals, and got just over $3-million back. Pfingst says there's still roughly $2.1-million owed to his client.

In a signed agreement from May of 2009, Jack's La Jolla Owner William Berkley admits that, "Ms. Moore infused extensive funds from her personal accounts/funds to mitigate the negative cash flow..." Going on to say "...the funds were critical to ensure Jack's was able to sustain daily business operations."

"She would come down with  money and pay vendors, bartenders, waiters out of her personal pocket and she's never been repaid for that, and instead she's been charged with a crime," insists Pfingst.

He says the District Attorney's office and San Diego Police investigators weren't aware of the other details and seemed surprised when he gave them copies of the financial records, and witness statements showing vendors were paid by certified funds from Moore directly.

Tara Moore is now being held on $2.5 million bail pending her arraignment in court on Friday.






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