MURRIETA – A Wildomar-based property investment firm partner accused of stealing nearly $750,000 in company funds was charged today with more than two-dozen felonies.
Celeste Marie Avellana, 62, was arrested Tuesday following a seven-month investigation into alleged illegal activity committed by the Mission Viejo resident, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
Avellana appeared this afternoon before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Judith Clark, who appointed her a public defender prior to arraigning her on 28 counts of forgery, five counts of grand theft and one count of falsifying records, along with a sentence-enhancing allegation of committing a felony resulting in losses of more than $500,000.
Clark kept the defendant’s bail at $750,000 — she is being held at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta — and scheduled a bail review hearing a week from today.
According to sheriff’s Lt. Zachary Hall, Avellana is accused of misappropriating funds intended for distribution to her associates at Potter & Schleuniger, a California limited liability company that handles rental properties throughout the region.
Hall did not disclose how long the alleged thefts had occurred, or the manner in which the defendant allegedly attempted to conceal the activity. According to the sergeant, Avellana acted in the capacity of a controller in the business venture.
She was taken into custody without incident at her office on Rancho Parkway after detectives obtained a warrant for her arrest.