Patricia Smith, an employee at Baierl Acura in suburban Pittsburgh, confessed to stealing more than $10 million from the dealership.
She made more than 800 transfers to her personal accounts and falsified bank statements and inventory records to cover her misdeeds. She and her family enjoyed the illegal benefits for more than 7 years. during this time she told her family and friends that the money came from a fortuitous airline-stock purchase and work as an online travel agent.
With the stolen money she bought a 4,300-square-foot home, three other houses for her family, club-level seats at last year’s Super Bowl, she had dinner with actor Kevin Spacey, bought 10 vehicles (including a 2011 Honda Crosstour, a Ford Shelby Mustang convertible and a Honda motorcycle) and many other amenities.
In May 2012 she pleaded guilty to wire fraud and cooperated with investigators, being sentenced to 78 months in prison for what the judge called “mind-boggling” behavior. Officials said that many dealerships fall victims to these kind of thefts, many of them committed by longtime, apparently loyal employees who have access to large amounts of money.
“We’re glad that justice has been served and this matter is now behind us,” Lee Baierl, president of Baierl Automotive, said in a statement. “Despite the amount of funds taken over time, there were no adverse impacts to our daily operations. Our business is doing well, and we have adopted stronger measures to prevent such a crime from ever occurring again.”