Who We Are - Our Partners & Principals

John Lerias, CPA, Partner

John is always looking for ways to distinguish GYLD from other accounting firms. It's a simple matter for him, because he's an accomplished accountant in his own right, with industry expertise in real estate, homebuilding, construction and non-profit organizations. He graduated from Memphis State University with a degree in business administration, then attained his CPA license in California a short time later. He holds Securities License 6 and 66, as well as a Real Estate License. An overachiever? Not according to John. "I strongly believe that business needs to be approached with discipline, commitment and integrity. That's how I live my life. And it's my road to success." It should come as no surprise that he's also a believer in Business Beyond the Books. "You may be on the road to success, but you need a vehicle to get you there. That's where we come in. This is what any client should be looking for. It's what they deserve."

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Stephen Williams, CPA, Partner

Stephen genuinely enjoys helping people get ahead in their businesses and their lives. He graduated from California State, Fullerton with a Business Administration degree and an emphasis in Accounting, noting, "When I saw the importance of knowing numbers and their relationship to success, I could see how I could really help people -- by imparting valuable information to them." Stephen had his own practice before merging with GYLD. This turned out so well for him, he now heads up the firm's Mergers & Acquisition department. Today, after practicing for 24 years, his "human" approach shines through his work: "Sometimes accountants are viewed as the "No" people. Here, we work to figure out how it can be done. One area of his expertise is Specialty Services such as Construction. "Clients need to know you're looking out for their best interests. You won't find anyone who works harder for you."

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Joseph Romero, CPA, Partner

Joe is a down to earth accountant that can take complex matters and present them in a way that is useful and meaningful to clients. He has been described as a genuine and sincere person. Joe believes strongly in the power of information and works diligently to ensure that clients receive more than just financial information to meet regulatory requirements but to utilize information that help businesses and organizations succeed. He graduated from the University of San Diego with a Bachelor in Accounting degree. He has recently joined GYL Decauwer LLP after managing his own practice for fifteen years and over twenty-five years of experience working with small businesses, not-for-profits and real estate development. Joe has significant experience in auditing and accounting which has allowed him to dig deep into the accounting records of clients that has allowed him to help clients develop systems that provide accurate information on a timely basis. “I firmly believe the accounting profession is one of the most trusted professions that allow us to develop loyal, trusting and long standing relationships”.

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David B. Cohen, BBA, MBA, MS, CPA, Partner

David, a Partner in our San Diego office, excels at taking the complex and breaking it down in order to determine the best possible taxation and financial planning strategies for our clients. He possesses extensive experience across a broad array of accounting services. He is particularly sought-after for his expertise in the field of taxation relating to high net-worth individuals, trust and estate taxation and planning, mergers, consolidations, acquisitions, manufacturing, construction, high-tech, retail and wholesale distribution, research and development, real estate, qualified plans, employee benefits, executive compensation, professional services, professional athletes, international and multi-state taxation.

With 32 years in the public accounting sector, including five with Deloitte Touche, David is renowned for bringing peace of mind to his clients and delivering on their expectations. He is adept at determining what his clients need and how to best serve them. He anticipates any challenges and capitalizes on opportunities for them. David’s expertise also includes: retirement planning, education funding strategies, long-term care, disability and other insurance planning strategies and sophisticated estate and trust techniques.

Planning for complicated business strategies of public and closely-held business interests is also in David’s wheelhouse. He is called on by clients to advise on the proper structuring of various and complex business acquisitions and sales, buy-sell agreements, intricate multi-generational estate and trust planning techniques, insurance, charitable gift planning, private annuities and corporate executive compensation plans. For his clients, David is a most trusted advisor.

He holds a BBA with a Major in Accounting and a Minor in Computer Science from San Diego State University (with honors) and an MBA with a Major in Taxation from the same university (with honors). David’s professional affiliations include: Certified Public Accountant – State of California, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), California Society of Certified Public Accountants, Member of Alliance of Merger and Acquisition Advisors, NAEPC Accredited Estate Planning Specialist, Past President of the San Diego Estate Planning Council, La Jolla Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Section, NASD and SEC Series 7 Licensed, California, NASD Series 66 Licensed and Insurance Licensed in multiple states. For excellence in his profession, David is a past recipient of the Accountant Advocate of the Year award. This award was issued by The United States Small Business Administration and the San Diego County Chamber of Commerce.

Off-the-job, David’s family is a big priority for him. He enjoys spending time with his family members at the beach, playing tennis, skiing, exercising and on the golf course.

David’s Work Philosophy: “Success isn’t just about what you accomplish in life. It’s about what you inspire others to do.”
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Keith A. Lovett, CPA, Partner

Keith’s clients in the automotive business genuinely appreciate his “roll up your sleeves until the job is done” attitude. They know that Keith will not only ensure they are provided with superior quality service on all levels but that he lives and breathes their particular industry. A proven professional, Keith has recently joined us following over 20 years with Michael L. Cox & Associates, a CPA firm renowned in the automotive world. As a noted expert in his field, Keith is adept at serving single family owned automobile dealerships as well as multiple franchise groups. He is the go-to resource for not only our automotive clients but has been sought out by other CPAs seeking his assistance in this complex industry. A graduate of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, Keith earned a Bachelor of Science degree with an emphasis in Accounting. If you ask Keith what he enjoys most about his work, the reply is swift, “The incredible relationships that have resulted from working closely with people who are as proud as I am of their successful automotive businesses.” He possesses an expertise in tax compliance for consolidated Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, S-Corporations and individuals. In his professional career in public accounting, Keith has prepared audited and reviewed financial statements for numerous automotive clients. He is respected by his colleagues and clients and as Keith sees it, “I don’t work for our clients, I work with them, and that makes all the difference in the world.”

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Mark Rivera, Partner

Mark Rivera, Partner Mark is adept at painting the big picture for our clients. He provides a wide variety of tax, accounting and advisory services to businesses of various sizes and complexities – and explains the impact of proper planning and strategies. His blend of tax and accounting experience enables him to furnish clients with a superior level of service during all aspects of an engagement.

The Firm’s clients in the manufacturing, distribution and construction industries benefit from Mark serving as the Partner in charge of these particular sectors. His background includes the provision of tax and accounting services to various clientele and he ensures our clients are always in-the-know.

As a Certified Public Accountant with more than 16 years of public accounting experience, Mark’s qualifications are formidable. They include his expertise with the implementation and compliance of IC-DISC to provide tax benefits to those manufacturers exporting goods to foreign customers, his knowledge of Research and Development (R & D) studies to provide tax credits to manufacturing clients performing R & D, his experience with the compliance of multi-state filing for manufacturers with Nexus in various states, his proven ability to synthesize complex data and information into meaningful outtakes and his aptitude for communicating cost and financial information across one’s business.

Mark makes it all come together at our Firm. He is a key contact for our clients and assists in the supervision and coordination of our team members’ work. He is the one who ensures that all of our engagements are timely, efficient and produce the proper end result. Mark is responsible for providing leadership and direction to our group of audit and tax professionals and is a member of our Firm’s Executive Committe

He obtained his CPA license from the State of California in 2005 after having graduated from Azusa Pacific University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting. Mark belongs to a number of professional and civic organizations. They include the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the California Society of Certified Public Accountants, the Institute of Managerial Accountants and the Construction Financial Management Association. He also holds a Board position with the Rancho Cucamonga Community and Arts Foundation.

Our partners are often featured in traditional and social media. Mark has been publicized in the Daily Bulletin and was voted as the 2013 Readers’ Choice Best Accountant in the Inland Valley (May 2013) and 909 Magazine – Meet Your Neighbors (November 2012).

Off-the-job, Mark enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters. He uses any additional hours for exercising, golfing, socializing with family and friends, and simply relaxing.

Mark’s Work Philosophy: “People with clear, written goals accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.”
Brian Tracy, Author

David C. Papotta, CPA/CFF, Principal

David gives our clients a sense of reassurance. His industry experience is extensive and his knowledge across a broad range of specialties is deep. He is able to consult with our clients on a variety of issues and with close to 20 years of partner-level involvement, David knows how to provide solutions. He handles the financial, tax and business preparation, and planning needs for clients in the following industries: agriculture, aviation – private jets, construction, distributing, entertainment – post-production and casting, government contracting, health clubs, homeowners associations, insurance – medical groups, investment advisers, manufacturing, non-profit, pension plans – 401(k), profit sharing and ESOP, professional services – doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects, real estate, rock & gravel and software.

Clients seek out David’s expertise in forensic accounting as well including fraud investigations and due diligence services for mergers and acquisitions. He has also become involved in emerging industries and specializes in providing accounting and business consulting services to cannabis entrepreneurs.

Our clients benefit from David’s counsel and strength when it comes to helping them make fiscally conservative decisions. The results benefit all parties involved today and in the future.

He is a firm believer in good client relations and excels at client service. David leads our team in the Simi Valley office and ensures that we deliver what is promised during the course of our engagements.

His CPA license was obtained from the State of California and recently, from Idaho. David is a member of, and received his Financial Forensics Certification from, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). He also belongs to the California Society of CPAs and in the past has served as a Qualifications Committee Member of the California Board of Accountancy and as a Board Member for the Los Angeles Chapter of the California Society. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting from California State University at Northridge.

Off-the-job, David can be found spending time with his young son who appreciates his dad coaching his baseball team. He also enjoys playing golf, water sports and basketball along with shooting pistols and shotguns.

David’s Work Philosophy: “You can have everything you want in life if you just help enough people get what they want in life.”
Zig Ziglar