Gulfstream accountant held in $8.5M theft scheme

AP News
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Posted: Nov 07, 2014 11:12 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — An embezzler who served time in federal prison was arrested Friday in a scheme to steal at least $8.5 million from Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. to finance a lavish lifestyle, the FBI said.

Marvin Caukin of Calabasas was held without bail after his initial appearance in federal court on charges of identity theft and conspiracies to launder money and commit mail fraud, said FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller.

Caukin, 66, was finance director at Gulfstream's Long Beach and Las Vegas operations when he orchestrated a sophisticated embezzlement scheme using friends and relatives to set up phony businesses to bill the company for services never provided, Special Agent Sherine Ebadi said in court papers.

The bogus companies had names that sounded like they were in the aerospace industry, such as Jetco Aviation Services. Caukin approved payments and the proceeds were funneled back to him and also used by his co-conspirators, who have not been charged.

Caukin spent the money on two houses, including his $2 million Calabasas residence that he purchased with cash, fancy cars, pricey restaurants, five-star hotels, expensive jewelry, luxury furnishings as well as mundane expenses such as insurance premiums, utilities and other living expenses.

The FBI and investigators the U.S. Postal Inspection Service searched Caukin's two homes Friday and recovered several thousand dollars in cash from his Mercedes Benz, Eimiller said.

Gulfstream fired Caukin in May 2013 when it discovered that he had lied on his application in 2000 when he said he hadn't been convicted of a felony in seven years.

Caukin spent nearly three years in federal prison in the mid-1990s for embezzling $2.4 million from USA Petroleum Corp., where he was finance director. He pleaded guilty in that case to wire fraud.

Two of the co-conspirators, including one of his sons, were unindicted accomplices in Caukin's previous scheme, according to Ebadi.

Another co-conspirator who was authorized to handle bank accounts for phony companies and rented mail boxes where checks from Gulfstream were sent is believed to run an Orange County escort service that was paid more than $55,000 between 2001 and 2012 for catering and support at events such as the company Christmas party.

The woman who ran those events said Gulfstream had never hired that company.

Spokespeople for Gulfstream, a wholly owned subsidiary Falls Church, Virginia-based General Dynamics, did not immediately return calls or emails seeking comment.

Caukin, who did not enter a plea Friday in federal court, was ordered to appear at a Nov. 17 bail hearing.

His lawyer had no comment.