Hilder says TAC filed the state court petition against Anthony Chiofalo seeking a temporary restraining order "to prevent the dissipation of the assets. . . ."
In that June 2012 petition, TAC brought fraud, conversion and breach of fiduciary duty causes of action against Anthony Chiofalo and alleged he violated the Texas Theft Liability Act. He has not filed an answer. The company seeks more than $8 million in actual damages and unspecified punitive damages from him.
In June 2012, 281st District Judge Sylvia A. Matthews signed a TRO, and in July 2012, she signed a temporary injunction.
On Nov. 9, 2012, she signed an order granting an interlocutory default judgment against Anthony Chiofalo on liability in Tadano America Corp. v. Anthony Chiofalo, but she wrote in her order that TAC may request a hearing on damages.
The complaints the DA's office filed against Chiofalo and his wife allege Anthony Chiofalo started work at TAC in Houston on Jan. 20, 2009, as head of legal affairs and human resources and in that role he was responsible for managing TAC's litigation. In April 2011, the complaints allege, he created a "fictitious law firm" called Maio & Cardenas LLC and filed documents with the Texas secretary of state that listed him as the registered agent and managing member. [See: "Internal Probe Prompts Criminal Charge Against In-Houser," Texas Lawyer, June 18, 2012, page 1.]
The complaints allege that from May 6, 2011, through May 11, 2012, Anthony Chiofalo "caused a series of checks made payable to Maio & Cardenas LLC to be issued by TAC" and those "unauthorized checks" totaled $9,329,546.81.
According to the complaints, he used $1,888,777.94 of the money to buy several items from Heritage Auctions from Feb. 7, 2012, to April 5, 2012, including "numerous paintings, sculptures, artwork, photographs, collectables, comic books, [and] memorabilia." Those purchases were delivered to him at a storage unit facility in Spring on April 27, 2012, the complaints allege.
On Aug. 27, 2012, Jackson signed an order authoring the seizure of items from several storage units the order describes as controlled by Chiafalo and his wife and awarded the items to TAC as "partial restitution." The order includes an 84-page exhibit list of items to be seized.
"We're still pursuing leads," says Hilder, of Hilder & Associates of Houston.
Martina Longoria, an assistant DA in Harris County who is prosecuting the Chiofalos, says she cannot put an estimate on the value of the items that have been recovered.