Former Typhoon! COO indicted in new embezzlement scheme

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The former Chief Operating Officer for Typhoon! — who already stands accused of embezzling approximately $1 million from the now defunct popular local restaurant chain — is now accused of embezzling money from a global food distribution company, KOIN 6 News has learned.

Richard Lee Anderson, 56, was arraigned Wednesday in Multnomah County Circuit Court on a grand jury indictment charging him with two counts of first-degree aggravated theft. The new case was opened after investigators received an anonymous tip.

Richard Lee Anderson walks into the Multnomah County Justice Center (KOIN-TV. Feb. 19, 2014).
Richard Lee Anderson walks into the Multnomah County Justice Center (KOIN-TV. Feb. 19, 2014).

Officials are now asking the public’s help in identifying other potential victims.

Court documents obtained by KOIN show that between the periods of May — July 2012 and August –October 2012, Anderson stole approximately $20,000 from food distributor Sysco Corporation. Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Kevin Demer, who is prosecuting the case said that based on preliminary information, Anderson worked for Sysco before being hired at Typhoon!.

The new grand jury indictment was issued Feb. 13, 2014.

Investigators learned after Anderson left Typhoon! — which shut down its five locations in February 2012 — he was re-hired at Sysco as a district manager. Officials said one of the clients he was responsible for was Bambuza Vietnam Bistro, which has two restaurant locations on the South Waterfront in Portland and in Hillsboro.

The South Waterfront location of Bambuza was one of the locations reportedly victimized by Anderson, police said. (KOIN-TV).
The South Waterfront location of Bambuza was one of the locations reportedly victimized by Anderson, police said. (KOIN-TV).

Anderson is accused of “padding” Bambuza’s invoice by adding extra food items, like chicken and bread. The items, not ordered by Bambuza, but reportedly added on by Anderson, would be listed as will-call. Anderson would then pick up the extra items himself and then sell them on the side, court documents allege.

“There are several different restaurants that unwittingly were paying Richard Anderson directly thinking that it was legitimate,” Demer said.

Officials said Sysco became suspicious when they noticed Bambuza had an unpaid account. Investigators with the company contacted the owner about repayment in September 2012, and then learned of financial discrepancies.

Investigators are particularly interested in talking with anyone who may have had direct contact with Anderson while he was employed with Sysco. Police learned that Anderson had offered to sell food to wedding or other catering events using the rouse that he could get a special discount because of his employment with Sysco. Investigators are now tasked with trying to identify those individuals. Officials said Anderson would have people write him a check for the food, but he would not deposit it into his bank account. Instead, officials believe he would take the check directly to the issuing bank and collect the cash.

Richard Anderson was fired from Sysco Corp., officials confirmed (KOIN-TV)
Richard Anderson was fired from Sysco Corp., officials confirmed (KOIN-TV)

“These checks are not run through his account,” Demer said. “They’re checks that were paid directly to him.”

In Oct. 2012, KOIN first reported that a grand jury had issued a 22-count indictment against Anderson after investigators learned he reportedly embezzled close to $1 million from Typhoon! between 2009 and 2011 while he was its COO. Investigators said that, instead of filing employee tax withholdings to the state and federal government, Anderson pocketed the money.

When the Thai food restaurant chain closed its five locations in February 2012, an estimated 300 employees lost their jobs. According to state records, the company owed an estimated $2.25 million in unpaid employee taxes. Officials said the owners of Typhoon! were unaware of Anderson’s reported criminal behavior.

The investigation showed Anderson and his wife lived a lavish lifestyle, which investigators said was funded in part by embezzling the funds. KOIN learned that the couple shared a large amount of debt, including $11,000 at Nordstrom, $8,000 at Neiman Marcus and approximately $4,000 at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Anderson’s trial for the Typhoon! case is scheduled for June 2014. It is not clear if the new case will be added onto the existing case, or if it will cause any additional delays.

Anderson entered a not guilty plea to the original indictment filed October 2012. On Wednesday he entered a not guilty plea to the latest indictment. Demer sought to have Anderson taken into custody because he is “concerned about the wake of victims we’re finding behind Mr. Anderson.” Anderson’s attorney, Jeff Dickey, said having his client taken into custody would hamper his ability to prepare for trial.

Judge Eric J. Bloch ruled Anderson can remain out of custody pending the two trials. The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office said he will be booked, a new mugshot taken and then immediately released.  After court, Dickey and Anderson both declined to comment.

A spokesperson for Sysco said the company could not comment on employee matters involved in on-going criminal investigations.

Anyone with information on the cases, or anyone who wrote checks directly to Anderon, is asked to call Portland police Detective Brian Sitton at 503-823-0400.

— Brent Weisberg
Follow on Twitter: @BrentKOIN

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