UPDATE 3:24 p.m. Feb. 21: The preliminary hearing for Elizabeth Ann Masters that was scheduled for today was postponed until Tuesday.
ORIGINAL POST: A woman accused of embezzling nearly $6 million from her San Marcos employer to fund a horse ranch in Southwest Riverside County was scheduled to be in court Thursday for a preliminary hearing.
Riverside County resident Elizabeth Ann Masters, 45, is charged with several felonies, including embezzlement by an employee, grand theft, theft by false pretenses, forgery and willfully filing a false tax return, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department's online jail records.
Masters was arrested in New Mexico June 22 after she allegedly fled California in March to avoid prosecution on the fraud charges. She has been jailed at the Las Colinas Detention Facility in Santee located in East County San Diego in lieu of $2.1 million bail since last summer.
A judge will decide at the end of the preliminary hearing whether there's enough evidence to order Masters to stand trial.
Masters was fired from her clothing wholesaler employer, PROformance Apparel, in December 2011 after an audit found she had forged more than 700 company payroll checks and deposited them into her personal bank accounts, sheriff's Sgt. Mark Varnau said.
Prior to her termination, Masters worked for the company as a controller for nine years. She allegedly used much of the stolen money to buy and maintain a large horse ranch in Aguanga in rural Southwest Riverside County.
After her employers discovered the losses and reported the suspected embezzlement, Masters sold off animals and equipment from the equestrian facility and was able to repay about $500,000, the sergeant said. --City News Service