Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Accountant accused of stealing $1.6 million from law firm

On Valentine's Day last year, David Sarnowski directed a final illegal transfer of funds to his own pockets, authorities say, and abruptly left the offices of Yarborough, Sarnowski & Evans, a Clearwater accounting firm.

He took his desktop computer with him.

On Saturday, the economic crimes unit of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office arrested Sarnowski, 50, on charges of stealing $1.6 million over four years from a law firm that used him to handle its payroll and payroll taxes. He took the money, authorities said, to support a gambling habit.

Authorities charged Sarnowski, who had been with the accounting firm for two decades, with felony grand theft and scheme to defraud. Monday afternoon, he was held at the Pinellas County Jail on a $200,000 bond. He faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison for each charge.

Sarnowski, whose last known address is in Dunedin, had a clean criminal record, authorities said. Public documents indicate he filed for bankruptcy in 1995. He has been married and divorced three times.

He was drawn to online gambling activities, including horse racing, Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda.

"He would bet large sums," she said, "and he would bet often."

After Sarnowski's abrupt departure from the office in February, a partner alerted the Clearwater law firm of Tanney, Eno, Tanney, Griffith & Ingram, authorities said. Sarnowski had been providing payroll services to the law group for a decade.

The law firm, which did not return calls for comment, hired a private accounting outfit to investigate. When irregularities were discovered, it contacted the Sheriff's Office in July.

Sheriff's investigators said Sarnowski began diverting money to his own payroll account in 2004. Over the course of the alleged theft, investigators said, the Internal Revenue Service routinely notified Sarnowski that the law firm's payroll taxes weren't being paid.

Robert Evans has known Sarnowski since about 1990, when he joined Yarborough, Sarnowski & Evans. Evans, 55, said he and his partner didn't socialize, and he had no idea Sarnowski had a gambling problem.

Evans said he assumed some of Sarnowski's workload and directed a few of his former partner's clients to other accounting firms. Evans said, and there are no problems with any of Sarnowski's other accounts.

Times researchers Carolyn Edds and Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Will Van Sant can be reached at or (727) 445-4166.

Accountant accused of stealing $1.6 million from law firm 01/26/09 [Last modified: Monday, January 26, 2009 11:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. For starters: Rays at Orioles, facing another old friend in Jeremy Hellickson


    The Rays take on the Orioles again tonight and will face another old friend for the first time, as RHP Jeremy Hellickson will take the mound for the home team.

    Hellickson was drafted by the Rays in 2005 and pitched for them from 2010-14, then was traded to Arizona. He has since bounced to the Phillies and …

  2. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  3. Charles Bradley, acclaimed Florida soul singer, dies at 68


    Acclaimed Florida R&B powerhouse Charles Bradley, whose raw, pained voice earned him the nickname the Screaming Eagle of Soul, has died of cancer at 68, his representatives announced Saturday.

    Charles Bradley performed at the 2016 Gasparilla Music Festival.
  4. Kriseman and Baker cash race continues as campaigns officially reset


    The mayoral campaign, mostly operating in stealth mode during the two weeks of Hurricane Irma's build-up, arrival and recovery, has entered its stretch run, a compressed schedule of ten days before ballots are mailed to tens of thousands of voters in the Sunshine City.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker are emerging from Hurricane Irma mode and getting back into campaign form
  5. Bucs have chance to beat Vikings in their third stadium


    Here's a cool sign that the Bucs are getting up there as an NFL franchise: If Tampa Bay can win Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, it will mark the first time the Bucs have posted road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.

    TIMES ARCHIVES (2012) | Bucs RB Doug Martin runs during Tampa Bay's 36-17 win at the Vikings in 2012, in what was then called Mall of America Field. If Tampa Bay wins Sunday, it will mark the first time they have road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.