Embezzlement trial begins for La Jolla bookkeeper - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Embezzlement trial begins for La Jolla bookkeeper

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A woman embezzled millions of dollars from a La Jolla restaurant and nightclub where she worked as a bookkeeper, a former mother-in-law and stole military spousal benefits to which she wasn't entitled, a prosecutor told a jury Thursday.

Tara Virginia Moore "took advantage of the trust that was placed in her," Deputy District Attorney Bill Mitchell said in his opening statement of trial.

Mitchell said Moore would write checks to herself and deposit them in an investment company business account that was supposed to be closed, then transfer the money into her personal account.

Moore, 42, presented herself as independently wealthy, Mitchell said.

"Lying, cheating and stealing became a way of life for the defendant," Mitchell told the jury.

Detectives in 2011 seized more than $400,000 worth of antiques, furniture, paintings, exotic Italian silk curtains from Moore's home -- items that police allege were bought with embezzled funds.

Moore, who filed for bankruptcy in 2009, was identified as a suspect during a yearlong investigation into monetary losses at Jack's La Jolla, a high-end restaurant-bar that closed in 2009.

The alleged fraud came to light when the owner of Jack's hired a forensic accountant to examine the restaurant's financial records dating back to 2003, Mitchell said.

Defense attorney Paul Pfingst has said that Moore actually loaned some of her own money to Jack's to keep the business afloat, but Mitchell said that, too, was a ruse.

Mitchell said Moore lied to her former mother-in-law about a possible investment in a Rancho Bernardo property and stole more than $500,000 from the older woman.

When one of Moore's husbands, a Naval aviator, died, she failed to disclose that she had remarried and continued to collect military life insurance benefits, Mitchell said.

Moore faces grand theft, embezzlement, forgery and financial elder abuse charges. Her trial was expected to last at least six weeks.

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