Feds: Thief used funds for ranch, cars, props

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BOSTON (AP) – A bookkeeper for a construction materials company embezzled $6.9 million and used the money to go on a shopping spree that included a 104-acre ranch and a half-dozen talking trees like those in “The Wizard of Oz,” federal authorities said Monday.

Prosecutors say Angela Buckborough Platt also bought eight show horses; a fleet of motor vehicles including a 1964 Ford Thunderbird; a house on five acres in Rhode Island; Hollywood-grade cinematic props to decorate her home for Halloween; and a life-size ceramic statue of Al Capone.

Samantha Martin, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office, said that when friends or relatives asked Platt about her wealth, she told them that she was the CEO of a corporation or that she and her husband had won the lottery.

Platt, 43, of Wyoming, Pa., was charged Monday with one count of interstate transportation of stolen property. She has agreed to plead guilty in a deal subject to court approval, Martin said.

Platt bought six of the talking trees, which were Hollywood-grade cinematic props, for $3,000 each to decorate her home for Halloween, the U.S. attorney’s office said. She also splurged on a 20-foot-tall smoke-emitting dragon called “The Slayer,” which sported hydraulically powered wings and a “booming dragon roar,” officials said.

Platt, formerly of Cumberland, R.I., worked as a staff accountant for J&J Materials Corp. in Rehoboth from 1999 to 2006.

Authorities say that in June 2000, Platt began to write checks from company accounts to herself. The weekly deposits initially ranged from $2,000 to $5,000 but eventually neared $50,000, prosecutors said.

Her theft was discovered in June by another bookkeeper who had been hired to assist her. “I’m not going to say anything one way or another, other than to say there is a plea agreement,” said Platt’s attorney, R. Bradford Bailey.

Martin said the agreement calls for Platt to spend between 46 and 57 months in prison.

J&J owner John Ferreira said he has received about $2 million in restitution so far, most of it in real estate, cars, horses and other items. He said Platt always seemed like a good employee.

“I’m angry, disappointed,” Ferreira said. “She hurt a lot of people.”

AP-ES-01-22-07 2257EST

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