For release on November 20, 2020
Major Fraud Unit
Office Manager and Her Father Embezzle Over $1 Million From Law Firm
A law firm’s former office manager will be arraigned this afternoon for stealing over $1 million from the law firm, which has offices in Campbell and Newport Beach.
Johnnell Alva, 35, of Gilroy, employed a variety of schemes to steal money, including giving herself unauthorized raises and salary of $418,951. She issued checks from the law firm to pay off her personal credit cards and used the law firm’s credit card to pay for her purchases from Amazon.com and Tiffany & Co. She also paid her father Juan Alva, 60, of Sunnyvale, a salary of $13,800 even though he did not work for the firm.
The Alvas and J & J Construction will be charged with grand theft, receipt of stolen property, and conspiracy to defraud. Johnnell Alva’s arraignment will be at 1:30 at the Hall of Justice in San Jose. If convicted, they face up to 12 years in prison.
“Busy professionals often trust their long-time employees to run the office with little oversight,” prosecutor Daniel Kassabian said. “Those employees must be held accountable when they violate that trust.”
The theft was discovered when the law firm’s CPA was preparing the firm’s tax returns and remarked to the firm’s owner that Johnnell Alva was paid an annual salary of $300,000 as the office manager. This came as a shock to the owner. The firm’s owner then reported the misconduct to the Campbell Police Department, which worked with the DA’s Office to determine the full extent of the theft through further investigation of the Alvas’ financial and other accounts. The investigation showed that from 2016 through 2019, Johnnell issued checks to J & J Construction, Inc. — her and her father’s construction company — from the law firm’s bank account.