A federal judge in Austin sentenced 51-year-old Tamra Maurene Villarreal (aka Tamra Creighton Villarreal), the former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for Richardson Enterprises, Ltd. headquartered in Austin, to 63 months imprisonment for her role in a close to $16 million embezzlement scheme, announced U.S. Attorney Gregg N. Sofer; FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs, San Antonio Division; and Special Agent in Charge Richard D. Goss, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Houston Field Office.
At sentencing yesterday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman also ordered the Lakeway resident to pay $15,941,452.87 in restitution to the Richardson family and $4,243,649 in restitution to the IRS. Judge Pitman further ordered Villarreal to be placed on supervised release for a period of three years after completing her prison term.
Richardson Enterprises (Richardson) has automobile dealerships in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. As CFO, Villarreal compiled financial information and provided it to outside accountants. She also had signing authority on Richardson bank accounts.
On August 18, 2020, Villarreal pleaded guilty to a two-count Information charging her with wire fraud and making and subscribing a false income tax return. By pleading guilty, Villarreal admitted that from 2009 to January 2018, she embezzled the funds from Richardson accounts and used that money for personal enrichment. Specifically, Villarreal diverted monies from Richardson bank accounts to accounts belonging to her and her husband. She used those stolen funds along with a corporate business credit card to pay for numerous personal expenditures including luxury items, hotel stays and restaurant tabs without the knowledge or permission of the Richardson family. Villarreal admitted that she used her access and control of Richardson’s books and records to conceal and disguise her unauthorized transactions.
In April 2018, law enforcement executed a search warrant on her Lakeway residence. Recovered during the search were many valuables purchased during the scheme, including rare coins, gold bars, expensive watches, lavish jewelry and multiple firearms.
Villarreal also admitted that she subscribed a false 2013 federal income tax return wherein she and her spouse claimed $433,747 in earnings when in truth their income that year far exceeded that amount when accounting for the proceeds from her embezzlement scheme.
Villarreal’s former husband, 48-year-old Robert Scott Villarreal, pleaded guilty to federal charges in connection with this investigation. He is scheduled to be sentenced on January 21, 2021, in Austin before U.S. District Judge Pitman. Robert Villarreal, who is out on bond, faces up to 10 years in federal prison for money laundering, up to 20 years in federal prison for possession with intent to distribute cocaine and up to three years in federal prison for failure to file a federal income tax return.
The FBI and IRS-CI investigated this case. Assistant United States Attorneys Michelle Fernald and Robert Almonte prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.