Couple Convicted of Embezzling Up to $500K From Davis Business

Kara Leigh Brown's husband was the Chief Financial Officer for Harper Model Home Maintenance from 2003-2007.


Patch learned Wednesday afternoon that a couple was convicted of embezzling between $100,000 and $500,000 through a Davis-based business from 2003-2007.

Kara Leigh Brown, 43, and her husband Benjamin Joseph Chaney, 32, (both of Brentwood) were convicted of embezzlement last week. Chaney was the Chief Financial Officer for Davis-based Harper Model Home Maintenance from 2003-2007. 

Chaney used company checks and credit cards to buy gifts, pay child support, and even to start his own competing business. All of this was discovered after Chaney left the company, as you can see in the release below, which was provided by Reisig's office Wednesday afternoon:  

Brown pled to a charge of Accessory to a Felony for assisting in the theft and embezzlement by her husband ... Chaney admitted the charge that he embezzled an amount between $100,000 and $500,000. On an earlier date Chaney pled to the majority of charges in this case, multiple theft-related felonies and felony tax evasion. Brown agreed to pay $340,000 in restitution to the victims. 

During the years 2003 to 2007, Chaney was employed as a Chief Financial Officer for Harper Model Home Maintenance, a Davis company owned by the Harper family. The Harpers had spent decades building the company, which specializes in model home cleaning, doing most of the labor themselves and sometimes driving as much as 3000 miles a month to reach the work site. As this family business grew, they hired Chaney, their then son-in-law, in various management positions. Chaney eventually became the Chief Financial Officer. 

Later, after Chaney’s marriage ended, the Harpers kept Chaney on as CFO. In 2003, Chaney began stealing from the company by writing checks and using the company credit card on various personal items, including gifts, child-support payments, electronics, computers, home mortgage payments, furniture, appliances and other personal items amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars over the five year period. The thefts were not discovered until Chaney left the company in November 2007, after which a review of his work computer showed that he had started a competing business using funds from the Harper’s business. 

A Yolo County Grand Jury indicted the couple on March 20, 2010. Brown, Chaney’s second wife, was involved in the criminal acts from 2005 to 2007. As part of the plea agreement, Brown will receive probation and Chaney agreed to serve five years in State Prison. The Honorable Stephen L. Mock presided over the case and is scheduled to sentence on February 22, 2013 at 8:30 a.m. in Department 3 of the Yolo County Superior Court. 

For more information, please contact Chief Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Raven via email at jonathan.raven@yolocounty.org.

Lawson January 17, 2013 at 03:43 AM
Dishonor is bad...stooopid is worse. How could he think he'd get away with such a clear paper trail??? Servers him right. And he got Reisig too? So dumb... Jeff CAN BE A DICK BUT THE MAN IS DAMN GOOD AT HIS JOB. OK, so I got a hard on for white color, oops, collar... thieves. They usually get away with murder.
Justin Cox January 17, 2013 at 05:00 PM
Haha, thanks Lawson. Thoughtful response, but make sure to keep it clean. I agree that it seems crazy that someone would think they could get away with this, but I bet people do more than we know. I'm surprised it took this long. Lesson learned: When your daughter and her husband get divorced, don't keep the husband employed, especially if he's in charge of the company money.


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