Fullerton, Calif. — An accountant from El Segundo, Calif., has been arraigned on charges that he allegedly stole $2.7 million from Veterinary Pet Insurance Inc. (VPI), the nation's largest pet insurance provider.
Stephen Anthony Friekin, 58, faces 103 felony counts of money laundering, 48 felony counts of computer access and fraud and one felony count of grand theft. The charges carry white-collar sentencing enhancements. If convicted on all charges, Friekin could serve more than 114 years in prison.
VPI officials did not respond to media inquiries concerning this case by press time.
According to the Orange County District Attorney's office, Friekin, a certified public accountant, had been employeed as a VPI accounting manager since June 2006. Between February and June 2008, officials allege that he stole approximately $2.7 million from VPI by transferring money from the company bank account into her personal account, laundering as much as $1 million in a 24-hour period. Friekin then allegedly wire-transferred the bulk of the funds to international bank accounts in Asia, Europe and the Caribbean. He is accusesd of cashing out the remainder of the stolen funds and wire-transferring it to associates throughout the world. Deputy
District Attorney Marc Labreche of the Major Frauds Unit is prosecuting the case.