CEO admits stealing $15 million from her company to finance clothing boutique, Plaza Hotel visits, and $200K on relative’s wedding

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This is some high end drone.

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The US chief executive of a German saw-blade maker has pleaded guilty to stealing $15 million from the company to bankroll a luxury clothing and furniture boutique he ran on the sidelines.

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Donna Osovit Steele, 52, of Taylorsville, NC, had worked for Tigra USA since 1999, starting in the shipping division and rising to become chief executive. Prosecutors say Steele began stealing from the coffers of the HIckory-NC-based company in 2013, eventually pocketing millions.

By conducting a company check himself and using a company credit card, Steele used $350,000 in cash to start a luxury clothing and furniture business called Opulence by Steele.

serial smuggler

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However, the guilty plea was not the first time Steele was accused of embezzlement. In 1995, he pleaded guilty to stealing $500,000 over a period of six months from a family-run sign company where he worked, According to the Hickory Daily Record. He served nearly a year in state prison and was ordered to return the money.

He was previously convicted of major theft and writing bad cheques.

extravagance

He was also accused of spending more than $1 million on lavish trips, which included $255,000 at the Plaza Hotel in New York and $155,000 at the Ritz Carlton Kapalua in Hawaii. He spent $6,800 for a trip to see the Notre Dame-Virginia Tech football game.

Steele was accused of spending more than $200,000 on company money for a relative’s wedding, and $100,000 on cut flowers and another $100,000 on Gucci clothes and bags.

Prosecutors also accused Steele of spending more than $500,000 on jewelry.

Steele pleaded guilty Wednesday to wire fraud in federal court in North Carolina. He faces up to 20 years in prison. A message left with his lawyer was not immediately returned.

cover his track

According to court documents, when the credit-card companies marked the purchase as suspicious, Steele told them they had been authorized.

Because of her lavish spending, the company was facing trouble in paying vendors and covering its own payroll expenses. Company employees also began denying charges on their corporate credit cards,

To further cover its tracks, prosecutors said Steele told employees that the parent company in Germany was having financial troubles. It also asked them to limit communication with their counterparts in Germany and hand over passwords to all of the company’s systems.

Company officials in Germany eventually became suspicious and launched an investigation, and found major discrepancies in the firm’s books. He then fired Steele and contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“We are pleased that justice is being done,” said Bernd Motzer, a member of the family that owns Tigra, who took over as president and CEO of its American division after Steele was fired.

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