© 1999 Photo-Graphic: Robert Altman for Solimar, Inc.
Kenny and Julia Loggins
I was able to grab just one digital out-take of superstar Kenny Loggins and his lovely wife Julia. We are doing a cover story for the new millennium's Solimar Magazine.
Kenny and Julia are blessed with abundance. They also have their parcel of personal struggles. Like you. Like me. That they share all the highs and lows with others ( "The Unimaginable Life") is quite special and I must admit, New York skeptic that I am, I was able to open my heart and head and gain inspiration listening about their discoveries during the interview for this summer's issue. You too could find out much more at Kenny Loggins (Dot Com)
And now for something quite unusual re: the demise and crash landing of Solimar Magazine...Fired UC Cashier Arrested in $4.7 Million Theft
Suspect financed daughter's angel firm, police say
Jaxon Van Derbeken, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 14, 1999
©1999 San Francisco Chronicle
A former head cashier at the University of California at San Francisco was arrested yesterday on charges that she embezzled $4.7 million, allegedly to bankroll a now-defunct New Age magazine and angel- theme gallery run by her daughter.
Marie Taliaferro, 54, who worked at UC San Francisco for 17 years, was arrested at her home in Moraga on a total of five counts, including embezzling public money, grand theft, money laundering and tax fraud. She was being held in San Francisco County Jail on $4.5 million bail.
Taliaferro was fired in July after she came under suspicion of pulling off one of the largest thefts in university history. Authorities believe that she stole millions in cash receipts and funneled much of it into Solimar Inc., a Lafayette company run by her 33-year-old daughter.
The company was dedicated to the proposition that ``angels are spiritual messengers dedicated to our growth and good fortune.''
Taliaferro's daughter, Christina ``Sunni'' Taliaferro, may have realized earlier this year that something was wrong. A ``Dear God'' note found on her desk said, ``I'm so scared that my mom is stealing,'' a former employee told investigators. The note also asked God to send $1 million.
Christina Taliaferro has not been charged in the case. Her attorney, Michael Cardoza, said she had no knowledge of any wrongdoing.
Of the UC San Francisco money that has been traced, $2.5 million went to Solimar and $1.3 million was deposited to personal or family accounts, authorities said. About $900,000 is unaccounted for.
Authorities say that Marie Taliaferro tried to disguise the large thefts by depositing the money in a number of banks in totals of less than $10,000. Anything more than that must be reported to the federal government.
Taliaferro is already the target of a civil suit filed by the university that names her, her husband, Paul Taliaferro, and her daughter as defendants.
Carl Douglas, a lawyer representing Marie Taliaferro, said his client is innocent and is not a flight risk because she never left the area during the six-month investigation.
``I cannot help but be curious of the timing of these charges, coming as they do on the eve of a significant election,'' he said.
As supervising cashier at UC San Francisco, Taliaferro was responsible for collecting checks and cash for services such as campus parking and patient co-payments to deposit in the university's bank accounts.
According to UC's civil suit, Taliaferro embezzled money by ``altering cash register tapes, deposit receipts and other accounting records, making false accounting records and destroying accounting records.''
Money began disappearing in the first half of 1997, about the time Taliaferro's daughter was starting her business, audits show.
Christina Taliaferro's company published the quarterly magazine Solimar . . . Living in the New Millennium and operated a gallery and store in Lafayette that featured angel art, conducted workshops and sponsored community events.
Christina Taliaferro, who was listed as the president, CEO, founder and ``visionary'' of Solimar, told interviewers she had overcome a rape and an eating disorder to become an advocate of angels.
``We . . . offer our gallery, products, and services as a manifestation of angels for all seekers,'' said the company's Web site, which has since been taken down.
Marie Taliaferro was described on the site as Solimar's chief financial officer and ``the vessel from which abundance flows.''
Sarah Lenz, vice president and creative director of Solimar, told investigators that Marie Taliaferro was the ``primary source of working capital'' for the company and approved spending plans.
Once she had agreed to the plans, she would make a deposit in the company's account, according to an affidavit filed by senior district attorney's investigator Duane Hadley.
Lenz told investigators that she understood the deposits to be coming from money that Marie Taliaferro had inherited.
In April, three months before she was fired from UC, Taliaferro said she could no longer fund the company because she had ``reached her limit,'' Lenz told investigators.
Christina Taliaferro's secretary, Kira Schoeneman, told investigators that she spotted a note on her boss' desk in May that said, ``Dear God . . . I'm so scared that my mom is stealing. Please send me a million dollars. I want my own money.''
Shortly after news of the investigation broke, the Lafayette gallery abruptly closed and the company declared bankruptcy. Solimar's magazine is no longer publishing.
Marie Taliaferro ordered key documents in the case destroyed, Hadley said in the affidavit. The full extent of UC San Francisco's losses may never be known.
Taliaferro, according to the affidavit, explained the losses as accounting errors, or said the money had been sent to the wrong bank or to the wrong petty cash account. Investigators ultimately ruled out each scenario.
After discovering the loss, UC San Francisco hired a controller to oversee financial operations at the campus. It has also moved to deny Marie Taliaferro the $187,000 she accumulated in retirement benefits at UC.
©1999 San Francisco Chronicle Page A17
Plug: If you live in the Bay Area don't forget to watch San Francisco in the 20's Wednesday April 14, 8 PM, KRON (CH 4,) produced by my talented "award-winning" cousin Joan Saffa.
Off to London and Scotland for a fortnight.