Bergen County guided-tour company manager sent to prison for embezzling

A Bergen County, New Jersey, woman was sentenced today to 27 months in prison for participating in a multi-year embezzlement scheme and subscribing to a false personal income tax return.

Estela Laluf, 76, previously pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Julien Xavier Neals to an information charging her with one count of wire fraud and one count of subscribing to a false tax return.

Judge Neals imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

According to U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger and documents filed in this case, Laluf was the general manager for incentive and escorted tours at City Tours Orlando Inc, an East Rutherford, New Jersey, guided-tour company between October 2010 and August 2016.

During that time, Laluf and another employee, who held an accounting position at the company and had authority to write checks against the company’s bank accounts, devised a scheme to embezzle funds from the company.

Laluf would direct her acomplice to write company checks to actual company employees and contractors, which did not reflect any actual work or services done by those individuals.

They would then cash those checks, and convert the resulting funds to their personal use. 

Laluf and the employee embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the company, then fraudulently omitted the proceeds of the scheme from her tax year 2016 tax return.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Neals sentenced Laluf to two years of supervised release and ordered her to pay $295,297 in restitution.

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