Lawyer who bought comics with embezzled loot sentenced to 40 years
An attorney charged with embezzling more than $9 million from his former employer, only to spend much of it on high-priced collectibles like a copy of Detective Comics #27, was sentenced today in Houston to more than 40 years in prison.
The Houston Chronicle reports that Anthony Chiofalo, who landed a job in 2009 as head of legal affairs for Tadano America despite being disbarred in New York, pleaded guilty to the theft of more than $200,000, a first-degree felony. Prosecutors say within a year of being hired, Chiofalo began setting up dummy law firms that charged his employer for litigation work — to the tune of $9.3 million.
They say he used a sizable chunk of the money to purchase sports memorabilia and vintage comic books: When his home and storage units were raided, authorities found a baseball signed by Babe Ruth, a first-edition Playboy, and a copy of Detective Comics #27 worth about $900,000.
The case didn’t stop with Chiofalo, however, as Lonnie Blevins, an investigator with the Harris County’s District Attorney’s office, was later arrested and charged with taking some of those comic books following the raid and selling them to collectors. His case is pending in federal court. According to the newspaper, Blevins’ partner was suspended from the D.A.’s office, and then resigned; he hasn’t been charged.