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DA: Merrick bookkeeper admits stealing $450K

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A Merrick woman admitted Thursday that she stole more than $450,000 to pay her bills and buy furniture after forging her boss’s signature on checks at a real estate firm where she worked as a bookkeeper, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said.

Joanne Rocca, 68, pleaded guilty Feb. 6 to a second-degree grand larceny charge. Prosecutors said they are recommending she be committed to state prison for up to four years when she appears back in court in June.

According to the district attorney’s office, Rocca used her job as a bookkeeper for a Plainview-based real estate firm to embezzle more than $456,000 by forging her boss’s signature on checks and arranging automatic payments from the businesses’ bank accounts to pay her bills from July 2004 to April 2011. Authorities said she used the stolen funds to pay her cable, gasoline, grocery and utility bills, in addition to buying home furniture.

In May 2011, her boss allegedly found one of the company’s checks made payable to Rocca’s American Express account sitting on her desk. She initially denied the accusations, but investigators said an internal review of accounting records revealed the extensive and lengthy theft.

“Employees that steal this much money damage the trust placed by employers in their employees and put the financial health of companies and the jobs of fellow employees at risk,” Rice said Thursday.

Rocca has already repaid $292,000 and prosecutors said they will ask the court to order her to continue paying restitution for another $164,432.88.

She is due back in court on June 6.

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