A West Babylon woman was arrested Thursday morning accused of inflating her salary, creating fake employees and reimbursing herself for phony expenses, in order to steal over $316,000 from her Great Neck-based employer, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said.
Onesta Reyes, 48, was taken into custody by DA’s Investigators after a lengthy investigation revealed that between January 2011 and May 2012, “Reyes embezzled a total of $316,639.40 in gross earning and unearned reimbursements from her employer,” the DA’s office said in a news release. Prosecutors did not identify the employer by name, but noted that Reyes worked as a bookkeeper for a Great Neck-based contractor.
DA Rice noted that in her capacity as bookkeeper, Reyes maintained the payroll and billing aspects of the company and “used her access to the payroll system to inflate her 2011 yearly salary from $48,720 to $239.839.” The alleged theft didn’t stop there and as prosecutors continued an investigation, they said they found that Reyes reimbursed herself for more than $89,000 in alleged phony expenses between January and November 2011.
“Reyes also created a second employee under the name ‘Onesta V. Reyes,’ whose gross salary was $22,729 between October 2011 and December 2011,” the release said. During that time, the DA’s office said that an additional $1,500 in fake expenses was collected and Reyes stole $11,815. Prosecutors said Reyes used the stolen cash to support her shopping habits and spent the money on clothing, shoes, and jewelry.
An internal audit by the company discovered the theft, the DA said. After discovering the missing money in May 2012, the company’s management referred the matter to the DA’s office for an investigation. Reyes was terminated from her job in June.
“The notion that this defendant would steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from her employer is bad enough, but to know that she used the money to add to her wardrobe is truly stunning,” District Attorney Kathleen Rice said.
Reyes was charged with second-degree grand larceny and is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday at First District Court in Hempstead. If convicted, she faces up to 15 years in prison. She remained in custody awaiting arraignment and could not be reached for comment.