Elizabeth “Lizzie” Mulder is accused of embezzling more than $1.5 million from five Orange County businesses. (Photo courtesy of Laguna Beach Police Department.)
SANTA ANA — A 34-year-old woman who said she was an accountant with a degree from Pepperdine University pleaded guilty on Monday to federal charges of embezzling more than $1.5 million from her clients.
Elizabeth “Lizzie” Mulder, who authorities said actually worked for a soil and fertilizer company and took some community college accounting classes, pleaded guilty on June 12, as was expected.
Mulder signed a plea settlement on May 15 with the U.S. Attorney’s Office as part of a deal to get a reduced sentence, according to federal court documents.
“The defendant used the money obtained from her fraudulent scheme for a variety of personal and luxury expenses, including a rental home in Laguna Beach, cosmetic surgery, personal vacations, living expenses, horse rentals and the purchase of horse equipment,” the plea agreement said.
Mulder, who listed herself as president of Mulder Financial Consulting, was charged with wire fraud and subscribing to a false income tax return for failing to disclose the misappropriated funds to the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Mulder used the money acquired for a variety of personal expenses, including a rental home in Laguna Beach, cosmetic surgery, vacations and horse rentals.
Prosecutors said Mulder is a San Juan Capistrano resident. Records show she did business in several Orange County cities including San Juan Capistrano, Laguna Beach, San Clemente, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and Irvine.
Jordan Mirakian, a Laguna Beach police detective, led the year-plus investigation and said Mulder deceived clients into making checks payable to a phony business she created, “Income Tax Payments,” under the guise that those payments would satisfy the clients’ outstanding IRS tax obligations.
She also created false personas as representatives and investors of companies to lead her clients to believe various expenses were being paid for their business, Mirakian said.
“(The victims) were entrepreneurial women with small businesses,” Mirakian said. “All had young children like she did. That’s how she earned their trust. She held parties, dinners and in one case went to a wedding in Italy with the owner of (one of the businesses).”
Mulder’s fraudulent schemes resulted in the theft of approximately $1,538,771 from several Orange County businesses, including JAC Wines in San Clemente, Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates in San Juan Capistrano and Andra Builders Inc. in Costa Mesa, prosecutors said.
She is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 16 and will face a statutory maximum penalty of 23 years in prison and a fine of $350,000.
Erika I. Ritchie contributed to this report.