Woman who embezzled nearly $6M from employer gets 9 years in pri - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Woman who embezzled nearly $6M from employer gets 9 years in prison

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VISTA (CNS) - A woman who stole nearly $6 million from her San Marcos employer by forging hundreds of payroll checks and depositing the money in her personal bank accounts was sentenced Monday to nine years in state prison.

Elizabeth Ann Masters, 45, pleaded guilty last month to four felonies, including grand theft and forgery.

Masters was fired from her clothing wholesaler employer, Proformance Apparel, in December 2011 after an audit found she had forged more than 700 company payroll checks, sheriff's Sgt. Mark Varnau said.

Masters worked for the company as a controller for nine years. Authorities said she used much of the stolen money to buy and maintain a large horse ranch in Aguanga in rural southwestern Riverside County.

Prosecutor Anna Winn said Masters duped horse lovers by telling then that she lost her job because the company went out of business, that she was battling cancer, and that she needed money to take care of 100 horses.

After her employers discovered the losses and reported the suspected embezzlement, Masters sold off animals and equipment from the equestrian facility and was able to repay about $500,000, Varnau said.

Masters was arrested in New Mexico last June after she fled California to avoid prosecution on the fraud charges, according to authorities.

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