In retrospect, "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" probably had an ominous tagline for Daria Calvecchio, the former MTV guest correspondent who covered the movie's 2003 premiere when she was an 18-year-old college freshman:
"This Christmas the journey ends."
That's what Delaware County authorities say has happened - five Christmases later - to the alleged father-daughter payroll scam that netted Daria and John Calvecchio more than $100,000 since 2004.
Following a spate of high-profile embezzlement arrests and convictions across the county, the Calvecchios, of Marple Township, are the latest duo to be charged with spreading the wealth around, Delaware County-style.
Officials at Arthur Jackson Co. discovered earlier this year that John Calvecchio, their former district manager, had been stealing money by adding Daria, his son and a friend to the company payroll, according to Upper Darby police.
Only John Calvecchio, 58, and his 23-year-old daughter have been charged because all of the fraudulent checks were deposited into their bank accounts, police say.
"Based upon the investigation, we feel the only people involved are the father and the daughter," said Upper Darby police Capt. George Rhoades.
Five years ago, Daria Calvecchio was posing for pictures with Liv Tyler and Elijah Wood after she won an audition to become an MTV correspondent while attending an episode of "Total Request Live."
She hobnobbed with the stars and traveled to Paris, London, Copenhagen and other cities to cover the premiere of Peter Jackson's epic trilogy. The photos were still on MTV's Web site yesterday.
Daria took her father along, she said, because he had read her the adventures of Bilbo Baggins in J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" when she was 5 years old - and he was a huge "Lord of the Rings" fan.
"When I went to college, he would call me up and say, 'Are you watching it?' " Daria Calvecchio said in a January 2004 interview, shortly after she had returned from her MTV trip with 18 hours of footage.
"These movies give people hope, that no matter how bad things get, there's still a bit of hope left in the world," she said at the time, when her biggest concern was catching up on missed classes at the College of Mount Saint Vincent, in Riverdale, N.Y.
Now, she's facing felony charges for allegedly receiving $60,000 her dad stole from his company. She and her father are out on bail as they await their Feb. 2 preliminary hearings.
John Calvecchio's attorney, Art Donato, declined to comment in detail yesterday, saying that he was still analyzing the case.
"He's a hardworking guy," Donato said.
Daria Calvecchio's attorney did not return a phone call from the Daily News.
No one answered the door yesterday at their Academy Lane home, which is decorated with Christmas lights and lawn ornaments. Reached by phone last night, John Calvecchio declined to comment. *