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Petaluma woman sentenced to 29 months for bank fraud, embezzlement, tax evasion

A Petaluma accountant was sentenced to 29 months in prison as part of a plea deal involving bank fraud, embezzlement and tax evasion, federal prosecutors announced Friday.

Stephanie Simontacchi, 48, is accused of embezzling at least $821,363 through her roles as an accountant at two North Bay firms — the Cavallo Point Lodge and Redwood Credit Union, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

She was arrested in June of last year and indicted on seven counts of bank fraud, seven counts of misapplication and embezzlement of credit union funds and four counts of tax evasion.

Simontacchi admitted, prosecutors said, to taking at least $384,363 in accounts payable and receivable checks from the Cavallo Point Lodge in Sausalito where she worked as accountant between October 2012 and March 2016. By using her signature authority, she deposited 81 of those checks in her personal bank accounts, federal authorities contend.

Simontacchi reached out to the Business Journal on July 5 to address the decisions she made that resulted in her sentencing.

“I regret my many bad choices and understand that they were serious offenses that caused my previous employers many lost hours, unnecessary expenses and feelings of shock, hurt and betrayal," Simontacchi said. "I was in a dark place."

A year after her four-year stint with the Marin County resort, Simontacchi also admitted to embezzling and misapplying about 35 checks including voided cashier’s and government checks at Sonoma County-based Redwood Credit Union where she worked as an accountant. That embezzlement, which amounted to $437,162, occurred for three years from April 2016, the DOJ claimed.

Redwood Credit Union Chief Financial Officer and Risk Manager Ron Felder told the Business Journal on Friday that he’s grateful the matter has been resolved.

“The unlawful actions by a former employee were discovered in 2019 through our own internal review and our cooperation with authorities,” Felder said. “It is important to emphasize that no losses were incurred by any RCU members, and that our systems and processes have been strengthened to prevent future incidents and ensure that we continue to safeguard our members’ financial security.”

Further, Simontacchi also admitted to failing to pay taxes between 2014 and 2020.

In addition to prison time, she was ordered to serve three years of supervised release after the term, which she must start serving Aug. 11.

Susan Wood covers law, cannabis, production, tech, energy, transportation, agriculture as well as banking and finance. For 27 years, Susan has worked for a variety of publications including the North County Times, Tahoe Daily Tribune and Lake Tahoe News. Reach her at 530-545-8662 or susan.wood@busjrnl.com.

This story has been updated with comments from the accused.

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