The Irvine Police Department (IPD) arrested Moore on Oct. 11, 2012 after it concluded a one-year investigation into Moore's management of accounts for Miller Contracting Company. Moore has been charged with two felony counts of grand theft by embezzlement, eight felony counts each of computer access fraud and falsifying records, and 29 counts of forgery with sentencing-enhancement allegations for loss over $1.3 million and aggravated white-collar crime over $500,000. Moore pleaded not guilty to the charges at her arraignment on Monday, Oct. 15.
In a story that sounds scripted right out of Hollywood, the Millers spoke with the State Gazette earlier this week to explain the financial and emotional effect this ordeal has had on them, how they feel betrayed by Moore and how they are trying to move forward.
Dan Miller is the owner of Miller Contracting Company, a fairly small business that has had the fortune of doing some larger projects in the Southern California area. During the construction boom of the late '90s and early 2000s, the company was bringing in nearly $35 million in construction projects. Miller depended on his in-house staff to "man the fort" while he was away, but in mid-2003, Miller's accountant announced she was relocating out of state.
"We were growing and I was looking for someone who could be my right-hand person and manage the finances," said Dan Miller.
Miller placed an advertisement in a local construction magazine, which Moore answered. Miller says that after an excellent first interview, Moore was invited back to interview a second time. In addition to interviewing well, Moore had letters of recommendation, including one from a local construction company in Dyersburg. She was hired on and according to Miller, immediately made an impact in their company.
"She caught on very quick and brought processes from her former company that streamlined things for us here," said Miller. "She became efficient at her job and I quickly gave her more responsibility."
According to Dan and his wife, Jennifer, they became good friends with Moore and her husband, Steve, and their two children. Miller says that when Moore came to him to ask for a $40,000 loan to put a down payment on her dream house in San Clemente, he didn't hesitate. He had made similar loans to other employees and Moore promised to get on a payment schedule to pay him back.
Miller says that every month Moore would bring him the books and he would look over the finances and everything looked good on paper. He would take that same information to his CPA every year to do his taxes; no one suspected a thing.
Then in 2008 the recession hit and construction came to an almost grinding halt.
"We went from doing about $35 million in construction projects to doing about $1 million," said Miller.
The continued decline in the economy forced Miller to take drastic measures to keep his small company afloat. His employees took pay cuts. Miller took out a second mortgage on his house. Over a two-year period Miller put approximately $800,000 of his own personal money into his business, hoping and praying that the economy would come back. Despite the struggles Miller always found a way to give his employees a Christmas bonus.
"Dan is one of the sweetest guys you will ever meet," said Jennifer Miller. "He treated all his employees well and Rebecca treated him like gold. We really thought she was taking good care of him and his company."
Finally in October 2011, Moore came in to Dan Miller's office and told him that the company did not have enough money to make payroll the next day. Miller could not understand how that was possible. Although business was slow, he had a few small projects that he knew would allow them to meet their expenses for the time being.
Miller went home that evening on Oct. 25, 2011 and began looking through his personal finances as well as his company's finances to try to figure out a way to make payroll the next day. Because his company subcontracts out a lot of work, hundreds of checks run through his business account any given month. He never had cause to look at an individual check until that evening. Miller found two checks that came through in recent days on his business account for $5,000 and $8,000. He thought the sums were rather large with business as slow as it was.
What he would discover in the next few moments would change his life forever.
"When he called me to come upstairs I started to tell him that I promised I had not spent any money," said Jennifer Miller. "That's when he told me 'No, it's not you'."
Dan and Jennifer Miller discovered that one of the two checks was to Select Portfolio Service, Moore's mortgage company. The more Miller looked through his online records the more things did not add up. He had a sickening feeling that his search would not end well.
Miller drove to the office that night and began researching and said he found Moore's personal bills in her desk drawer and evidence that she had been paying for her personal expenses through his business account. Miller found three months' worth of theft totaling $45,000 before he stopped. After conferring with his accountant that night, Miller decided to fire Moore immediately.
"I really thought that when I confronted her, she would say that she couldn't make payments because of all the cutbacks here in the office and that she was just trying to provide for her family," said Dan Miller.
However, when he confronted her the next morning he said that he received no such remorse.
"She just sat there and didn't say a word," said Miller.
Finally Moore asked Miller what he wanted from her. With a witness in the room, Miller asked her to write out how long the theft had been going on. Moore wrote out a confession that said that she had been stealing from the company and that it had been going on for a year and she had taken approximately $75,000. After the meeting concluded, Miller and his two remaining employees combed through records for the last eight years and found that her first theft went as far back as December 2003, approximately four months after she started working for Miller.
"It hit me personally at that moment," said Miller. "I realized that I was going to be working for years to pay back everything that she stole."
Miller contacted the IPD which began an investigation in October 2011 after he reported the theft. The IPD found that during Moore's eight-year employment from summer 2003 until October 2011, Moore allegedly forged the company owner's signature on over 280 company checks. Some of the checks were used to pay off her personal credit card and mortgage accounts as well as to furnish her San Clemente residence. Moore also had timeshare properties in Las Vegas, Nev. and Maui.
According to Miller, the IPD found in its investigation that Moore hid her crimes by altering the company's financial records to show that she was making legitimate payments to company vendors. The IPD investigation of the company's financial records showed forged signatures on several checks paid to Moore.
"It's a blow to my trust in people," said Miller.
He says that looking back he can see the red flags that should have alerted him that something was wrong, but at the time Moore had him fooled that she was making the same sacrifices that everyone else in the office was making. Miller says that he has employees who could not afford to send their kids to anything more than a junior college because of all the cuts Miller made in the office. All the while, Moore was purchasing a brand new Camaro for her son's 16th birthday, taking her family on expensive vacations and enjoying a lifestyle of a person that made a six-figure income. Miller says the money Moore stole could easily have been put back into the company to keep it afloat during the difficult recession.
The Millers now have the unenviable task of trying to rebuild their lives after a year of trying to hold Moore responsible for her actions. They filed a civil suit against Moore and won a judgment against her, which she attempted to have lumped together with her creditors in bankruptcy court just last month in California. It was immediately after the bankruptcy hearing that she was taken into custody.
"If I had one more chance to speak to her I would tell her that I hope she realizes how she affected so many people with her selfishness and greed," said Miller.
Moore is being held at the Central Jail in Santa Ana, Calif. on a $1.75 million bond. Her next court appearance is set for Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013.