Hard time doled out for theft of nearly $1 million

A man convicted of embezzling almost $1 million from the South San Francisco concrete company where he worked for 24 years was sentenced Friday to five years in state prison.

San Mateo Superior Court Judge Craig Parsons also ordered 47-year-old Steven Steffani to pay $1.2 million in restitution to Central Concrete Supply Co., which covers the $833,000 prosecutors say he embezzled from 2000 to 2003, plus interest. Steffani will also pay $88,524.52 to the state Franchise Tax Board.

On March 14, Steffani pleaded no contest to one count of felony embezzlement with a special enhancement for taking more than $5,000, and one count of tax evasion. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors agreed to seek no more than five years in prison.

Steffani, who worked as the supervisor of the truck maintenance department, used a dummy company to bill Central Concrete for parts and services never received, sold used parts as new and enlisted two accomplices to invent sales to the company that never occurred, according to prosecutors. The felony tax evasion charges were filed because Steffani never reported his profits to the government.

When authorities searched Steffani’s home in connection with the case, they discovered an illegal machine gun and a silencer. Steffani completed his nearly yearlong sentence on the federal weapons charges last week.

On Friday, defense attorney David Packard urged Parsons to count the year behind bars toward Steffani’s five-year sentence. But Deputy District Attorney Elaine Tipton disagreed, pointing out if not for the plea deal, Steffani would be facing eight years in prison.

Also, if not for two anonymous calls to Central Concrete, Steffani would likely still be embezzling from his bosses, she said.

“Their reward for trusting him is him ripping them off,” Tipton said.

Parsons agreed not to give Steffani credit for time served, citing Steffani’s long-standing pattern of embezzlement.

A civil lawsuit filed by Steffani’s former employers is also pending, said attorney Dek Ketchum, who represents Central Concrete.

Ketchum told Parsons that Steffani violated a court order by liquidating his assets and hiding $573,000 so it could not be seized in the civil suit.

Tipton said Steffani has never taken responsibility for the theft, telling a probation officer that his employer pointed the finger at him because he didn’t do his job right.

tbarak@examiner.com  

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