The former chief financial officer of Alden Shoe Co., a family-owned footwear maker in Middleborough, pleaded guilty Wednesday to embezzling $30 million from the company and spending it on luxury items and travel for himself and another person, federal prosecutors in Boston said.
Richard Hajjar, 64, of Duxbury, admitted to wire fraud, unlawful monetary transactions and filing a false tax return, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office. He faces more than 30 years in prison at sentencing on Sept. 15.
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 Between roughly 2013 to and 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 in attempt to recover some of the money. 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 still open, according to public records filed in Suffolk Superior Court records. On March 11, the parties agreed to allow de la Garza until May 14 to respond to the suit, which was originally filed last June.
Michael Pabian, who represents de la Garza in the civil suit, previously told the Globe de la Garza 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.
After failing to report the proceeds of his embezzlement on his tax returns from approximately 2014 to 2019, Hajjar also owes more than $5 million in taxes, prosecutors said.
Alden Shoe was founded in 1884 by Charles H. Alden. Hajjar was hired by Alden Shoe in 1987, according to court documents.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.