A suspended attorney has been accused of writing checks that totaled $9 million that were made out to a fake law firm in order to steal money from the company that employed him. Anthony Chiofalo was hired by Tadano America Corp., which makes hydraulic cranes in Houston. Chiofalo was hired as the head of legal affairs and human resources development at the company back in January of 2009.
Part of Chiofalo’s job duties included contracting the company with outside law firms that would represent the company as well as approving payments for legal services rendered to the company. Chiofalo was licensed to practice law in New York but received a two-year suspension beginning in October of 2010. The company claimed that they thought Chiofalo was a licensed attorney the entire time he was working for them.
Both Chiofalo and his wife, Susan, face charges of aggregate theft after a scheme was discovered by investigators that showed the two created a fake law firm in order to steal $9 million. The Chiofalos live in Spring. The fake law firm was created in April of 2011 and documents were filed with the Texas secretary of state to create a Texas corporation in the name of Maio & Cardenas LLC. Chiofalo put down an address on the documents that did not associate with any legitimate business but was for a retail store where post office mail boxes can be rented by the public. Any invoices sent to the company were sent to the home of the Chiofalos.
The company that hired Chiofalo found out that the suspect was using a series of checks that were made payable to the fake law firm from the dates of May 6, 2011 to May 11, 2012. An investigator hired by the company found that all of the checks made out to the fake law firm totaled $9,329,546. The investigator, James Glass, found that Chiofalo spent $1.8 million on artwork, paintings, photographs, sculptures, comic books, collectibles and memorabilia from Heritage Auction between the dates of February 7 to April 5, 2012. Glass works for the Harris County District Attorney and he is a certified fraud examiner. All of the items purchased were being stored in a storage unit in Spring.
Chiofalo’s wife, Susan, is also facing charges of theft because she told investigators that she lived at the address where all of the invoices were sent. The day after she talked with investigators, Susan purchased a one-way ticket from Houston to New York in order to flee the area. Susan is in custody but Anthony has yet to be arrested.