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Accountants Behaving Badly: Insider Trading, Poker Player Gone Bad, Sex Toy Assault

Was there a full moon on July 10? Accountants were found to be doing bad things on that day.

Ex-Illumina accountant accused of insider trading [CFO]
Martha Bustos, a former accountant for Illumina, was charged on July 10 with leaking the biotech company’s quarterly results to a close friend as part of an insider trading scam that netted more than $6.2 million in illicit profits.

The SEC said Bustos participated in the scheme with her friend, Donald Blakstad, the owner of investment firm Midcontinental Petroleum, who traded Illumina securities based on her tips and passed them on to at least four other individuals.

Blakstad rewarded Bustos lavishly for the information, even spending nearly $35,000 on an all-expense paid trip to New York for her and several of her friends, the SEC alleged.

Federal prosecutors also announced Blakstad had been indicted on criminal charges of securities fraud. Bustos pleaded guilty in that case last month and is cooperating with the government.

Poker player Dennis Blieden charged with embezzling $22 million from StyleHaul [Daily Beast]
Dennis Blieden, an accountant-turned-poker-playing-sensation, was arrested in Las Vegas on July 10 for allegedly wiring cash from his employer, StyleHaul, in 2015 to his personal account, dummying up accounting records and faking Western Union letters to make it look like the money was going to clients, authorities said.

Dennis Blieden

Blieden, who was the vice president of finance for StyleHaul, allegedly stole $22 million from the company between 2015 and 2019, socking some of the money into his cryptocurrency trading accounts and using some of it on personal expenses, including buy-ins for poker games.

A forensic investigation found more than $7 million in wire transfers and checks written to other poker players. Blieden also blew company money on online gambling sites.

StyleHaul, which has sued Blieden in state court, ceased operations last month and scrapped a plan to move from Los Angeles to London.

Accountant goes to court charged with sex toy assault [Daily Express]
Accountant Crystal Phillip appeared in a Trinidad and Tobago court on July 10 after she was charged with grievous sexual assault against a Venezuelan national.

Phillip’s bail was set at $50,000 bail; her next court date is set for Aug. 6.

Last week a Venezuelan woman, 24, reported to police that she was seeking employment, and while she was promised a job at a roti shop, she alleged that she was instead kept at a house where she was assaulted with a sex toy.

22 men jailed, accused of soliciting sex with teens online [WJXT Jacksonville]
One of the men arrested in the undercover sting on July 3, Kirk Elmore, is a CPA from Yulee, FL. According to his LinkedIn profile, Elmore is a senior manager for the Ocala, FL-based CPA firm Villela & Shilts. He also owns his own CPA practice.

Kirk Elmore

Undercover officers from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and other neighboring agencies posed online as 13- to 15-year-olds, and Elmore and the 21 other men were expecting to meet the teenagers for sex, authorities said.

When the men arrived, they were arrested on three charges: solicitation of a child via computer to engage in sexual conduct, traveling to meet after using a computer to seduce/solicit/lure a child, and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.

Trial scheduled for former dairy accountant accused of theft [Times-News]
A trial date was set for Stephanie Wells, a former dairy accountant from Jerome, Idaho, who was charged with multiple counts of grand theft.

Wells was hired by Box Canyon Dairy as CFO and internal accountant in 2012. She voluntarily resigned in January 2019 as the dairy was closing its operation. Wells is charged with 19 counts of grand theft, accused of embezzling more than $700,000 by writing checks to pay credit card bills and falsifying payments for a loan she had with the company.

The three-day trial has been set for Oct. 16, with a pretrial hearing scheduled for Oct. 8.

If convicted, the maximum penalty Wells could face on each count is 14 years in prison and a fine of $50,000.