Anthony Chiofalo, a former in-house lawyer in Houston who was charged along with his wife with stealing $9.3 million from his company, is in custody in Harris County facing the prospect of life in prison if convicted.
That's not the only legal problem facing Chiofalo and his wife, Susan Cardenas Chiofalo. His former employer, Tadano America Corp. (TAC) of Houston, filed a state court civil suit against him and a federal court civil suit against his wife. Both suits seek damages consisting of the money the Chiofalos allegedly stole.
On June 7, 2012, the Harris County District Attorney's office filed probable-cause complaints against Chiofalo and Susan Chiofalo, charging both with "theft-aggregate." Susan Chiofalo is out on $100,000 bond. On Jan. 7, 339th District Judge Maria Jackson denied bond to Anthony Chiofalo, who turned himself in to authorities in December 2012, seven months after the Harris County DA's office issued an arrest warrant for him.
Paul Doyle, a criminal-defense attorney in Houston who represents Anthony Chiofalo, told reporters on Jan. 7 his client was living undetected in a garage apartment in Rhode Island but turned himself in because he is ready to "take responsibility for what he did."
"He also wants to cooperate with the company," Doyle told reporters after his client's court appearance on Jan. 7.
Doyle also told reporters Susan Chiofalo is "totally and completely innocent."
Susan Chiofalo's criminal-defense attorney, Houston solo Luci Davidson, did not return two telephone messages left at her office.
However, in a motion to dismiss the federal civil suit against her, Susan Chiofalo alleges she is not the "wrongdoer."
"She is a victim of Anthony Chiofalo's crimes, just like TAC alleges that it is a victim," she alleges in the motion to dismiss.
Philip Hilder, an attorney representing TAC, says the company filed the civil suits to recover as much of the money as possible. Hilder, who TAC hired in 2012 to conduct an internal investigation into what he described in June 2012 as an "uncharacteristic spike in litigation," says the company has recovered assets, including collectibles, which potentially are worth millions of dollars. But Hilder says he's not confident the company can recover all of the $9.3 million.