Accountant Charged With Defrauding Two Marin Car Dealerships Of $1.7 Million

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SAN FRANCISCO – Christina Markus appeared in federal court in San Francisco today to face an indictment charging her with four counts of wire fraud, announced United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Craig D. Fair. 

According to the indictment, from 2010 to 2018 two Marin County car dealerships employed Markus, age 54 and formerly of Martinez, to perform bookkeeping.  She held various titles during her years of employment, including Office Accountant, Payroll Administrator, Payroll Clerk, and Office Manager.  Markus’s responsibilities included payroll processing, bank reconciliations, and posting ledgers for the dealerships using their “dealer management system” (DMS).  DMS is a software program that performs inventory management, bank reconciliation, finance, and payment and payroll processing.

The indictment alleges that starting in January 2014 and continuing through October 2018, Markus created special payrolls for herself.  The indictment charges that Markus, using the DMS software, wrote unauthorized checks to herself and created unauthorized bonuses and vacation pay and then caused these funds to be moved from the dealerships’ bank accounts to personal accounts that she controlled.  Markus hid her fraud, according to the indictment, by deleting the record of fraudulent checks, bonuses, vacation pay, and payroll direct deposits within DMS and by manipulating bank reconciliations and ledgers and clearing entries from payroll records.

During the nearly five-year period, the indictment alleges, Markus embezzled more than $1.7 million by causing funds to be moved from her employer’s accounts to her personal bank accounts.

Markus made her initial appearance in San Francisco federal court today before United States Magistrate Laurel Beeler.  Her next court appearance is scheduled for April 20 before United States District Judge Charles R. Breyer.  She remains out of custody.

The indictment charges Markus with four counts of wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343.  The maximum statutory sentence for a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343 is 20 years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss amount, a three year period of supervised release following prison, and the payment of restitution for losses caused.  However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by a court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

The charges contained in the criminal indictment are only allegations.  As in any criminal case, the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. 

Assistant United States Attorneys Joseph Tartakovsky and Kevin Yeh are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Amala James and Mimi Lam.  The prosecution was the result of an investigation by the FBI.