The former chief financial officer of Alden Shoe Co., a family-owned footwear maker in Middleborough, has agreed to plead guilty to federal charges for embezzling more than $30 million from the company in a long-running scheme.
Richard Hajjar, 64, of Duxbury, agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud, unlawful monetary transactions, and filing a false tax return, prosecutors at the US attorney’s office in Boston said Wednesday. The charges detail that from at least 2011 through October 2019, when he was terminated by Alden Shoe, Hajjar embezzled money by “writing checks to himself from company bank accounts and transferring funds from company accounts to his personal accounts and to another individual.”
From roughly 2013 to 2016, he used some of the money to pay off his personal American Express card, which he used to spend millions on gifts and luxury travel for an unnamed individual, including private flights to the Caribbean and diamond jewelry, according to the charges.
The criminal case follows a civil lawsuit that Alden Shoe filed against Hajjar last year, claiming he had embezzled $27 million from the company. That suit is still open, according to public records filed in Plymouth Superior Court.
Alden filed another lawsuit last year claiming, among other things, that Hajjar had funneled $15 million of the embezzled funds into the TV and fashion businesses of Bianca de la Garza, a former television news anchor who ran a beauty business under the name BDG Enterprises. That lawsuit, filed in June against de la Garza and her businesses to recover the $15 million, is also still open, according to Suffolk Superior Court records.
Michael Pabian, who represents de la Garza in the civil suit, said she was unaware of how Hajjar obtained the money. He confirmed the civil case is ongoing, and the parties agreed to extend the deadline for de la Garza’s response to May 14.
A lawyer representing Alden Shoe declined to comment further.
After failing to report the proceeds of his embezzlement on his tax returns from approximately 2014 to 2019, Hajjar owes more than $5 million in taxes, prosecutors said.
The company was founded in 1884 by Charles H. Alden. Hajjar was hired by Alden Shoe in 1987, according to court documents.