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O.C. woman used company credit cards for fertility treatments, D.A. says

A down payment on an Audi, an engagement ring and fertility treatments for her domestic partner are few of the items a Fullerton accounts manager at Sweet Life Enterprises is accused of charging on her employer's credit cards -- running up more than $236,000 in fraudulently charged personal expenses.

Ligia Baciu, 35, was arrested Wednesday by Brea police. She is charged with 21 felony counts of computer access and fraud and three felony counts of fraudulently using access cards. If convicted, she faces up to  20 years and four months in state prison.

Baciu worked in the accounting department of Sweet Life Enterprises, a subsidiary of Brea-based Fresh Start Bakeries Inc., from 2005 to 2009. She was responsible for all company credit card accounts, authorities said.

But Orange County prosecutors say she used her position to sweeten her own life.

Not satisfied with a single company credit card, prosecutors said, she ordered additional credit and gas cards in her own name with various account numbers.

Armed with the cards, she used them to pay bills, buy groceries and dine out. She also bought airline tickets, stays in hotel suites, nice clothing and even a down payment on an Audi, prosecutors said.

But the largest purchases were an engagement ring and fertility treatments for her domestic partner, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors allege that she attempted to conceal her theft by manipulating the company’s financial records to indicate that her purchases had been made by other employees. Her bosses remained unaware.

Even when she left the company in October 2009, she continued  to make fraudulent purchases on the company credit cards, say investigators. Her scheme continued until  January 2010, when the alleged theft was discovered in an accounting review of the business' credit card statements, prosecutors said.

Baciu is being held on $250,000 bail in the Orange County jail pending a court appearance Thursday. Before she makes bail, prosecutors say they will demand she prove that any money she uses for bond is not paid for with funds allegedly stolen from the company.

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-- Richard Winton

 
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