California CPA Charged with Defrauding New Jersey Religious Center of More Than $4 Million
NEWARK, NJ—A California CPA who allegedly stole more than $4 million from a worship center in New Jersey, is scheduled to have his initial New Jersey court appearance on Dec. 8, 2015, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman announced.
Donald Gridiron, 50, is charged by complaint with one count of wire fraud. He was arrested in California Dec. 2, 2014, by FBI agents and released on bail after appearing in court there.
According to the complaint:
The worship center, a religious facility located in New Jersey, hired Gridiron based, in part, on his connections with individuals in the religious community as well as his standing within that community. The worship center agreed to pay Gridiron a monthly salary and reimburse him for reasonable expenses related to his work.
Gridiron allegedly used his employment to obtain additional money from the worship center without authorization. He had the worship center’s bank accounts transfer more than $2.75 million to accounts he controlled and more than $1.5 million to an account associated with a foundation in which Gridiron was involved. Gridiron then used funds from his accounts for his own use, including payments on a mortgage for his residence, payments to a luxury car dealership, and withdrawals in furtherance of his gambling.
The charge of wire fraud carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000, twice the gross profits to Gridiron or twice the gross loss suffered to the victims of his offense.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark; law enforcement officers of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen, with the investigation leading to today’s arrest. He also thanked special agents of the FBI in California for their assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Kogan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.