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Bergen County Woman Sentenced to 27 Months for Embezzling Money from Guided Tour Company

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

River Edge NJ, a Bergen County,  woman was sentenced today to 27 months in prison for participating in a multi-year embezzlement scheme and subscribing to a false personal income tax return, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.

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Estela Laluf, 76, previously pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Julien Xavier Neals to an information charging her with one count of wire fraud and one count of subscribing to a false tax return. Judge Neals imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Between October 2010 and August 2016, Laluf held a management position at a New Jersey guided-tour company. During that time, Laluf and another employee, who held an accounting position at the company and had authority to write checks against the company’s bank accounts, devised a scheme to embezzle funds from the company. Laluf would direct the employee to write company checks to actual company employees and contractors, which did not reflect any actual work or services done by those individuals. The employee would then cash these checks, and Laluf and the employee would convert the resulting funds to their personal use.  Laluf and the employee embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the company. Laluf then fraudulently omitted the proceeds of the embezzlement scheme from her tax year 2016 tax return.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Neals sentenced Laluf to two years of supervised release and ordered her to pay $295,297 in restitution.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Newark, under the direction of Postal Inspector in Charge Damon Wood, Philadelphia Division, and special agents of IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Tammy Tomlins, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Trombly of the Cybercrime Unit in Newark.

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