Prosecutor: Woman stole millions from La Jolla businessmen, mother-in-law

A woman embezzled millions from a La Jolla restaurant and nightclub where she worked as a bookkeeper, as well as her former mother-in-law, and stole military spousal benefits to which she wasn’t entitled, a prosecutor told a jury June 16.

Tara Virginia Moore “took advantage of the trust that was placed in her,” Deputy District Attorney Bill Mitchell said in his opening statement of trial.

Mitchell said Moore would write checks to herself and deposit them in an investment company business account that was supposed to be closed, then transfer the money into her personal account.

Moore, 42, presented herself as independently wealthy, Mitchell said.

“Lying, cheating and stealing became a way of life for the defendant,” Mitchell told the jury.

Detectives in 2011 seized more than $400,000 worth of antiques, furniture, paintings, exotic Italian silk curtains from Moore’s home — items that police allege were bought with embezzled funds.

Moore, who filed for bankruptcy in 2009, was identified as a suspect during a yearlong investigation into monetary losses at Jack’s La Jolla, a high-end restaurant-bar that closed in 2009, and is being redeveloped under new ownership as the La Plaza La Jolla boutique shopping complex.

The alleged fraud came to light when the owner of Jack’s hired a forensic accountant to examine the restaurant’s financial records dating back to 2003, Mitchell said.

Defense attorney Paul Pfingst has said that Moore actually loaned some of her own money to Jack’s to keep the business afloat, but Mitchell said that, too, was a ruse.

Mitchell said Moore lied to her former mother-in-law

about a possible investment in a Rancho Bernardo property and stole more than $500,000 from the older woman.

When one of Moore’s husbands, a Naval aviator, died, she failed to disclose that she had remarried and continued to collect military life insurance benefits, Mitchell said.

Moore faces grand theft, embezzlement, forgery and financial elder abuse charges. —

City News Service

La Jolla man sentenced in hit-and-run death

An 11-year prison term was handed down June 20 for La Jolla resident who was drunk when he killed a marine biologist in a hit-and-run collision in Del Mar several months ago.

Christopher “Chip” Stockmeyer, 41, pleaded guilty in April to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and hit-and-run for causing the March 28 death of Rachel Morrison.

Witnesses said the 27-year-old pedestrian, a UCSD doctorate student who was studying at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, was walking eastbound when Stockmeyer ran a stop sign at the intersection of Camino Del Mar and Coast Boulevard about 10:15 p.m. while speeding in his Audi A4.

Morrison’s friend, who was walking with her in the crosswalk, wasn’t hurt.

Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe said the car’s Audi symbol and a partial license plate helped sheriff’s deputies locate Stockmeyer at his La Jolla home 12 miles from the crash site.

Stockmeyer reportedly told deputies that he had been drinking with friends at a restaurant in Encinitas and admitted he “might have” hit somebody in Del Mar.

Watanabe estimated the defendant’s blood-alcohol level was 0.24 percent at the time of the crash, three times the legal limit for driving. —

City News Servic