A former comptroller of the Washington law firm of Dickstein, Shapiro & Morin has been brought from the Philippines to the District to face charges in U.S. District Court that he embezzled more than $1.3 million from the firm.
G. Allen Dale, attorney for Reynaldo V. Liboro, 46, told U.S. Magistrate Patrick Attridge yesterday that Filipino government agents illegally kidnapped his client from his Manila home to bring him here.
According to the 1988 affidavit in support of a warrant for Liboro's arrest, unsealed yesterday, officials at the law firm became aware of the alleged embezzlement early that year. At that time, the firm's account manager notified Myron Mintz, a partner in the firm, that she could not reconcile records of a special account with those of the bank.
The discrepancy was discovered when it was learned that a client, shown on the firm's books as still owing money, had actually paid the debt. When Mintz asked Liboro about the discrepancy, the comptroller said it was an error, according to the affidavit.
The explanation prompted an audit of the special account and the firm's general operating account, which disclosed a $1.3 million shortage.
According to the affidavit, checks of more than $3,000 written on the firm's special account at the now-defunct National Bank of Washington required two signatures, that of one of five partners and that of Liboro. Dickstein Shapiro officials alleged that Liboro made out several checks in the name of one of the partners, and then signed his own name and forged that of the partner.
During its investigation, Dickstein Shapiro found that Liboro had made the requests for the checks, and then sent the firm's messenger to the bank to cash the checks, the affidavit said. The bank had required the messenger to endorse the checks also, according to the affidavit.
When Dickstein Shapiro officials confronted Liboro on Feb. 17, 1988, Liboro said that the people to whom the checks were made out had told him to sign their names. Liboro was fired the same day and immediately left for the Philippines.
In addition to the criminal charges against Liboro, Fred Lowther, a member of the law firm's executive committee, said yesterday that the firm won a $3 million civil judgment against Liboro in connection with the case. Lowther said the judgment requires Liboro to return all earnings from the firm during his 10 years as comptroller. Lowther said some of the firm's losses were covered by insurance.
Dale said in court yesterday that certified court documents from the Philippines show that on the same day Liboro was seized at his apartment, the country's second-highest court had barred his deportation pending hearings. Dale told the court that at the time he was seized in Manila, Liboro was free on bond.
Attridge did not hear testimony yesterday about how Liboro was brought to this country, but set a Monday hearing on whether the case should be presented to a grand jury and whether Liboro should be freed. He is being held without bond on a charge of defrauding a federally insured financial institution -- the bank.
Judy Smith, spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office, said that Liboro had sought asylum in the Philippines after his passport was revoked by the United States, and that Filipino government agents arrested Liboro and escorted him to the United States. She said that when Liboro arrived in California, he was arrested by FBI agents on a 1988 federal arrest warrant.
Dale said in court that Liboro traveled to the Philippines on a planned vacation on a ticket purchased two months in advance. While there, his passport was revoked, Dale said.