$1 million lawsuit adds twist to embezzlement case at Fresno County fruit company

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From the outside, Simone Fruit Company looks like a simple ag business, but a complicated financial scheme is coming unraveled from the inside. (KFSN)

Accusations are flying at a Fresno County business where sheriff's deputies arrested a bookkeeper for embezzlement.

From the outside, Simone Fruit Company looks like a simple agriculture business, but a complicated financial scheme is coming unraveled from the inside.

Fresno County Sheriff's investigators arrested bookkeeper Brandy Mabry in November, accusing her of stealing nearly $300,000 from the business.

But now a civil lawsuit claims the losses are more than $1 million, and its target isn't Mabry.

"Alleging the president has basically been embezzling hundreds of thousands, if not over a million dollars, from Simone Fruit Company," attorney Eric Schweitzer said.

Schweitzer is defending Mabry in the criminal case where she faces 144 counts of embezzlement, forgery and other felonies. He says the lawsuit Anthony Simone filed against his brother Mauro weakens the case against Mabry.

"Obviously, it casts a cloud over the believability of the president of Simone Fruit Company, who is the primary complainant against my client," he explained.

Mauro Simone said the civil case is just a personal problem between himself and his brother, and Anthony Simone agreed it's not connected to Mabry.

But his lawsuit specifically accused Mauro Simone of embezzling corporate money, failing to use safeguards to prevent employee embezzlement and refusing to let shareholders see the corporate books.

Legal analyst Tony Capozzi says Anthony Simone already has a decent case because of Mabry's arrest, but he'll need more evidence to prove the million dollars in losses.

"Is he going to show fictitious checks or checks going out to Mauro that should not have been as cash in the account or is it cash coming into the company and not put into the records?" Capozzi said.

Anthony Simone said the specific accusations against his brother are all just fancy lawyer talk.

Mabry is due in court Wednesday and she could agree to a plea deal keeping her from serving prison time.
Related Topics:
newscourt casefresno countyembezzlementFresno
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