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Ex-Hennessey's CFO Pleads Guilty

Rancho Palos Verdes resident James Cram pleads guilty to embezzling $1.14 million from Hennessey's Inc.

The Rancho Palos Verdes man accused of embezzling $1.14 million from during his time as the chain's chief financial officer pleaded guilty Tuesday to one felony count each of grand theft and filing a false tax return, prosecutors said.

In return for his guilty plea, James Edward Cram, 54, will receive a 2-year county jail sentence, according to Deputy District Attorney John Harlan. The plea agreement also calls for Cram to make restitution to Paul and Jennifer Hennessey, the restaurant chain's owners.

In addition to the $610,000 Cram has already paid in restitution prior to today's court proceedings, he must pay the Hennesseys $536,742.28 by Nov. 15, 2012—the official sentencing date, Harlan said.

The date is nearly a year away "to allow [Cram] to make payment to the restitution," said Harlan. Full restitution before sentencing "would be a large mitigating factor in this type of case."

Cram also owes the California Franchise Tax Board $201,464 in taxes on the embezzled money.

If Cram pays everyone back in full by Nov. 15, he will be released from jail and placed on probation for three years. If he returns the money within the next six months, he can have his sentencing date moved to an earlier date, Harlan said. If Cram fails to make restitution, he could be sentenced to up to five years in prison.

Even though Cram's anticipated sentence will be for two years in county jail, Harlan said Cram will spend less time in jail because of the credits inmates earn for good behavior and for working at the jail.

"If you sentence someone to two years, really they only serve one year because they get all that extra credit," said Harlan.

Cram, who worked for Hennessey's Inc. from 2006 until 2010, on 19 felony charges—including grand theft, money laundering and tax evasion—after a yearlong investigation by the Redondo Beach Police Department.

At the time of the arrest, Redondo Beach police Sgt. Shawn Freeman told Patch, "Mr. Cram was basically writing checks to himself or his own creditors ... signing Mr. Hennessey's name to it."

Hennessey's Inc. operates , and in Redondo Beach; in Hermosa Beach and in Manhattan Beach, and other Henessesy's throughout Southern California.

laurie December 27, 2011 at 04:57 AM
Why does he have to pay taxes on embezzeled money? i dont understand that. It sounds like a crime in itself.

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