Shoe company exec embezzled $30 million in failed bid to woo TV news anchor

The other shoe has finally dropped on one lovelorn exec.

The former chief financial officer of a high-end Massachusetts shoe maker has been sentenced to almost six years in prison for embezzling $30 million to help finance the career ambitions of a one-time TV newscaster he had fallen for.

Richard Hajjar, 65, admitted he had secretly siphoned millions from the coffers of Alden Shoes, the nearly 150-year-old cobbler where he had been a trusted employee for more than 30 years.

Hand-crafted leather shoes made by the company routinely sell for $800 or more.

Prosecutors say Hajjar began dipping into company funds in 2012, not long after meeting Bianca de la Garza, a long-time Boston-area news anchor who was looking to launch a TV talk show. 

The two had been introduced by New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick’s long-time girlfriend, Linda Holliday, at a party thrown by the couple, according to Boston magazine. Holliday would later write a letter in support of Hajjar during his sentencing negotiations, calling him a devoted and kind person, court records showed.

“I know Rick truly loved and believed in this woman,” Holliday wrote.

Unrequited love at first sight

A person familiar with the matter said Hajjar fell head over heels for de la Garza, but that the relationship never became anything more than platonic. 

De la Garza has strenuously denied in the past that the pair was ever romantic and has denied knowing that the money Hajjar spent on her had been stolen. Her lawyer declined to comment.     

Over the next seven years, prosecutors say Hajjar began stealing more and more from the family-run business, using significant portions of the cash to buy expensive gifts, jewelry, cars and trips for de la Garza, including a $1.1 million apartment in New York. 

Former Boston news anchor Bianca de la Garza met Richard Hajjar at a party at Bill Belichick’s house, according to Boston Magazine. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP)

He also wrote checks for millions of dollars to help finance the production of a regional talk show she wanted to launch called “Bianca Unanchored,” which ceased production after just a year, prosecutors said. Hajjar also used the stolen cash to fund a skin care line de la Garza tried to launch.

The pair became well known on the party circuit in Nantucket, where they hosted parties at a lavish weekend home Hajjar had purchased.

Prosecutors say Hajjar managed to cover up the theft by dipping into a rarely used cash reserve fund the Tarlow family, which owned the company, maintained. Hajjar then would draw from a line of…

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