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3 in Family Charged With Embezzling

April 25, 1998|DAVID HALDANE

Three Buena Park family members have been charged with embezzling about $800,000 from a multinational trash-hauling firm.

"I have never run into a family embezzlement like this before," said Pat Donahue, the Orange County deputy district attorney handling the case.

Earlier this month, the district attorney's office filed grand theft charges against Deborah Jean Baker, 37, as well as her father and stepmother, John Robert Martinez, 62, and Virginia Martinez, 56.

According to Donahue, the money was embezzled from 1994 to 1997 while Baker worked as a bookkeeper in the Santa Ana office of Browning Ferris Industries, based in Houston.

"Basically, checks were paid from Houston to her parents' company in Buena Park," Donahue said. He said Baker used a computer to convey false information to her Houston employers, causing them to pay the money to a trucking firm owned by her parents. "The bills were never really sent," Donahue said. "It was all done by computer--there were no hard copies."

After investigating the matter, Santa Ana police arrested the two women April 13, and John Martinez turned himself in two days later, according to Donahue. He is scheduled to appear at a pretrial hearing on Monday, while the hearing for the two women is set for May 1.

The three face up to five years in prison if convicted.

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