A former accounting manager, who fled to Costa Rica to escape charges of embezzling about $36 million from a Los Angeles company, pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal wire fraud charge.

Paul McDaniel, 42, of Orange fled to Costa Rica in early 2017 but was arrested later that year and extradited to Los Angeles seven months ago, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

McDaniel, also known as Edward Martin Karuku, admitted in Los Angeles federal court to stealing just over $36 million over eight years from Hypermedia Systems Inc., a media-technology services firm. McDaniel worked for an accounting contractor employed by Hypermedia.

As part of his job, McDaniel made payments to Hypermedia vendors. McDaniel admitted that he formed a corporation using a name similar to one of Hypermedia’s vendors, then directed the $36 million in funds to a shell company and created more than 100 bogus invoices on letterhead of actual Hypermedia vendors to justify the expenses.

McDaniel acknowledged using the stolen funds to pay off $23 million in credit card debt, and transferring another $8 million to his personal bank accounts.

“That is all true, your honor,” McDaniel told U.S. District Judge John A. Kronstadt at the plea hearing.

McDaniel faces up to 20 years in federal prison at sentencing on Feb. 20, at which time he is expected to be ordered to pay $36 million in restitution.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.