Clay Marzo Is Robbed Of His Home And Life Savings
The Marzo’s bookkeeper steals $400K over six years.
There’s some fucked up people in this world. And, it would appear Felicidad Rivera fits that mould.
This week 51-year-old Rivera, from Makawao, Maui, was indicted on 13 counts of wire fraud for allegedly embezzling more than $400,000 over six and a half years. The victim: Clay Marzo and his mom. She pleaded not guilty during her arraignment Monday in the U.S. District Court in Honolulu. Her bail was set at $50,000.
Working as a bookkeeper for Marzo from 2008 to 2015, the federal indictment alleges Rivera wrote herself 193 cheques totalling more than $330,000 between 2010 and 2015. She also paid more than $75,000 of her credit card charges from Marzo’s account. She hid the transactions through fake ledger entries.
“I leaned heavily — apparently too heavily — on her and part of me feels pretty stupid because how could this go on for so long?” said Jill Marzo Clark, Clay’s mom, in an interview with the Maui News. “But when you don’t understand numbers and hire someone to do numbers, how do you know? It looked to me like it started off little and then she figured out she could do it and it became more and more until she got sloppy.”
As a result of Rivera’s illegal spending habits, Marzo was left $30,000 in debt with no money left in his lifesaving. Rivera wiped him out. His mother also apparently lost a sizable amount of money.
In 2015, Clark found charges on her Macy’s card for fancy purses and other stuff she hadn’t purchased. With a little research she learned the purchases were sent to Rivera’s address. That’s when she contacted the authorities.
“It’s been a year of trying to get to this point,” said Clark. “It’s bittersweet; it’s awful that she did what she did because she was like a family member. She was close with us and worked with me for a long time.
“I hope that it all goes the right way, but it still doesn’t feel good. I’ve been sick to my stomach since Friday when she was arrested.”
The family first hired Rivera as a bookkeeper to handle Marzo’s affairs back in 2008 when he was still on Quiksilver and making a considerable amount of sponsorship money. His mom then also hired her to handle the financial affairs of her property management business.
Alongside Dane Reynolds, Julian Wilson and Jeremy Flores, Marzo was famously one of Quik’s Young Guns when the surf industry was booming in the early 2000s. He was then diagnosed with Asperger’s, a form of autism that affects a person’s ability to effectively communicate with others, according to the Mayo Clinic. People with Asperger’s exhibit social awkwardness and an all-absorbing interest in specific topics. In Marzo’s case, surfing was his outlet. A book and film were made about his unique relationship with wave riding.
“I told him . . . she took pretty much all of your money and put you in debt and took a lot of my money,” said Clark. “Most people would’ve been outraged and yelling, but he looked at me and he said, ‘Well, she must have needed it.’”
A response like that speaks volumes about the man that Marzo is.
Rivera’s day in court is set for Dec. 28. Marzo also has a civil suit pending against her that gets underway in June.
“It was a pretty weird day at the local in Kalbarri,” says West Australian-based photographer Mike Riley, who captured this gripping frame of Clay Marzo via the highly challenging art of shooting water angle. “The wind had a lot of north in it and the waves were far from perfect. This one of Clay was a stand-out wave from the day. The thing drained itself clean! The swell was solid and the peak was a little more shifty than normal. I kept finding myself out of position, either too far in or too far out, every time a wave came. Sometimes being in the wrong spot can work out better for the shot. I wore this one square on the head as Clay flew out over the foamball. I was lucky to avoid hitting the reef, as I got obliterated on the suck rock – not a place you want to be. It ended up working out pretty cool though… Worth it every time.”
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