Ex-CFO Of Alden Shoes Gets 6 Years For ‘Breathtaking’ $30M Embezzlement

A former CFO for Alden Shoe Co. will spend almost six years in prison after admitting to stealing $30 million from his former employer, a crime that the court’s judge described as “truly breathtaking in the annals of embezzlement.”

AldenPhoto Credit: Shutterstock

Richard Hajjar was sentenced to 70 months in prison in a Boston Court Wednesday, just four months shy of what the government requested in their suit. Hajjar unsuccessfully requested U.S. District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton give him only four years prison time, the low end of a range spelled out in his plea agreement.

Prosecutors claimed Alden blew through $30.6 million and the former exec owes the IRS $6.7 million in unpaid taxes from the funds. According to court documents, he will pay more than $27 million to Alden Shoe, with only $3.4 million already repaid by Hajjar and third parties.

Judge Gorton told Hajjar he was “frankly surprised that your counsel was able to negotiate such a favorable agreement” given the nature of the crime.

“In my many years as a judge, I have never seen its equal,” Gorton said.

Hajjar stole the large sums from 2011 until he was caught in late 2019. The majority of that time, Judge Gorton noted, Hajjar was Alden’s chief financial officer.

“That makes the Brink’s robbery look like chump change,” the judge said, referencing the infamous 1950 Boston theft. “That is a truly astounding breach of trust, displaying a monumental propensity for greed.”

Hajjar relinquished more than $20 million of the funds to a woman only identified only as “Individual 1” in federal court. In related state court litigation, that person was identified as Boston television personality Bianca de la Garza. $11 million was invested in startup companies owned by de la Garza, with Hajjar convinced he would be able to pay Alden back when de la Garza achieved celebrity status.

“Predictably, that day never came,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Mackenzie Queenin said.

Queenin noted that the money was also given directly to de la Garza in the form of cash and gifts.

“It went to pieces of jewelry that cost more than a college education, it went to private flights to faraway islands, it went to clothing, it went to real estate, and this theft started even before the defendant met Individual 1,” she said.

Art Tarlow, owner of Alden, told Judge Gorton that overnight his company went from being a healthy business with substantial cash reserves to being saddled with debt due to Hajjar’s actions.

“This wasn’t a victimless theft from a corporation, it was a crime against a family business,” Tarlow said. “The crime nearly destroyed our company. We cared for him and treated him as if he was one of the family, and Richard Hajjar repaid us with theft and deceit and betrayal.”

Hajjar’s attorney said he knows what he did was wrong and that he swiftly began liquidating his assets in order to try to make his victim whole.

“It was not just stupid, it was illegal, and it was criminal, and he knows that,” his attorney said.

Hajjar is scheduled to report to prison Nov. 15.

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