Gretna woman who embezzled millions charged with tax evasion -
Published Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 12:00 am / Updated at 1:10 am
Gretna woman who embezzled millions charged with tax evasion

She reportedly admitted to stealing $4.1 million over 2 years from an Omaha business.

Yet she hadn't faced any lawsuits by the business — or any criminal charges from prosecutors investigating the scheme.

Then came Friday.

Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov filed income-tax evasion charges against Gretna resident Caroline K. Richardson over the stolen money.

In a case first reported in The World-Herald, Richardson, 54, faces three counts of income-tax evasion and three counts of filing false tax returns after she reportedly admitted to stealing from Colombo Candy & Tobacco.

Caroline K. Richardson

If convicted, Richardson could face up to 20 months to five years in prison on each charge. She was in the Sarpy County Jail on Friday.

The World-Herald reported on Richardson's case in April after court documents indicated that she admitted to stealing $4.1 million over the 2 years she worked as an accountant for Colombo, a candy and tobacco distributor.

Instead of going after Richardson, Colombo and owner Monte Brown sued Ameristar Casino. They said that the casino should have known that Richardson was gambling with ill-gotten money. The casino is fighting that lawsuit in federal court.

Colombo also sued Richardson's former boss — saying the boss recommended that Colombo hire Richardson despite her alleged history of theft.

Richardson's former boss denied any knowledge of theft by Richardson at her prior company.

Colombo even chose to refer to Richardson as “Jane Doe” in court arguments and legal documents.

Colombo reached a settlement with Richardson in which the business agreed not to sue her in return for her cooperation in the lawsuits against the others, according to court documents. Such a deal does not apply to criminal charges, Polikov said.

Under federal law — the same laws that resulted in charges against renowned mobster Al Capone — citizens are required to report stolen money on their income taxes.

Nebraska Department of Revenue investigators alleged that Richardson failed to report the following embezzled amounts on her income tax returns:

2010: $592,648
2011: $2,865,468
2012: $641,085

Both Polikov and Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said their offices are looking at possible embezzlement charges against Richardson over the $4.1 million.

The case is complicated by the apparent agreement between Colombo and Richardson that Colombo would not report the matter to authorities.

However, Polikov said, the prosecution won't hinge on the victim's wishes.

“Victims are important to us,” Polikov said, “but they don't choose whether cases are going to be prosecuted or not.”

Kleine agreed.

The theft case “is not a dead issue,” Kleine said. “Our concern is the protection of the people of the state of Nebraska. We're going to figure out a way to make sure that if she stole a bunch of money, she's held responsible for it.”

Contact the writer: Todd Cooper    |   402-444-1275

Todd covers courts and legal issues for The World-Herald.

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