|For Immediate Release
Case # 11HF0064
May 27, 2011
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
ACCOUNTING CONSULTANT CHARGED WITH EMBEZZLING OVER $822,000 FROM FRIEND’S IRVINE COMMUNICATIONS COMPANY AND SPENDING FUNDS ON PERSONAL EXPENSES AND LAVISH LIFESTYLE
SANTA ANA – An accounting consultant faces charges for embezzling over $822,000 while working at an Irvine communications company and spending the money on personal expenses and a lavish lifestyle. James Harry Fluch, 64, formerly of Rancho Santa Margarita, is charged with 156 felony counts of computer access and fraud with sentencing enhancements for property loss over $200,000 and aggravated while collar crime over $100,000. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 114 years and eight months in state prison. Fluch was arrested at his current residence in Portland, OR, May 9, 2011, and was extradited back to Sacramento. He is expected to be transported to Orange County today, May 27, 2011, by Orange County Sheriff’s Department. The defendant is being held on $822,000 bail and must prove that the money is from a legal and legitimate source before posting bond. Fluch is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday, May 31, 2011, in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana. The time is to be determined.
From 1990 to 2011, Fluch worked as an accounting consultant for a long-time friend’s business, Check Point Communications (Check Point) in Irvine. Fluch is accused of violating his position of trust while managing the finances of the business by overseeing and managing the company’s bank accounts, payroll, and bookkeeping.
Between Jan. 19, 2006, and Jan. 14, 2010, Fluch is accused of embezzling company funds by transferring money out of Check Point’s escrow account into his personal bank account 156 times and hiding the theft by over-reporting payroll. Fluch is accused of using the money to pay off his seven credit cards, which were used at restaurants and bars, country clubs, auto and health insurance, a Fastrak transponder, gas, cable television, and other bills. Fluch is accused of making purchases with the cards at retail establishments such as Nordstrom, Roger Dunn Golf, Lowe’s, The Home Depot, Radioshack, and Joanne. He is accused of using Check Point money to pay off credit cards used to finance trips to Nevada, Texas, Florida and Washington, including airline tickets, food, car rentals, casinos, and entertainment. Fluch is accused of using the money from the company to cover cash advances on the credit cards and approximately $13,000 to pay off his wife’s American Express card.
In January 2011, an audit of the accounts revealed that hundreds of thousands of dollars had been transferred out of a company escrow account and into Fluch’s bank account. The Irvine Police Department investigated the case.
Deputy District Attorney Matt Lockhart of the Major Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case.