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VALLEY ROUNDUP | Chatsworth

Couple Accused of Embezzlement

April 17, 1999|KURT STREETER

A Chatsworth couple are in custody following their arrest this week on suspicion of bilking the estate of a deceased man out of nearly $250,000.

District attorney's investigators arrested Isabel Bernstein, 55, and her husband Paul, 56, Thursday on suspicion of grand theft, forgery and tax evasion, all stemming from an alleged embezzlement involving the estate of Harry Popkin, a wealthy Beverly Hills man, authorities said.

Isabel Bernstein kept the books for Popkin until his death in 1991, when he left his estate to his widow and daughter, said Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the district attorney.

For the next two years Isabel Bernstein continued to work for Popkin's widow, Frances, helping her close her late husband's office and writing checks for the widow's expenses and bills, Gibbons said.

But prosecutors allege Isabel Bernstein abused her position, depositing into her own bank account more than $250,000 in checks made out to Frances Popkin.

The California Franchise Tax Board, which also investigated the Bernsteins' finances, pressed the district attorney's office to file tax-evasion charges, according to Gibbons. The tax charges allege the couple underreported taxes from a linen business they own that has been propped up by ellegedly embezzled funds.

Isabel and Paul Bernstein, who are each being held on $300,000 bail, are scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

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