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Nassau DA: Ex-CFO jailed for theft of $429K

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A Rockville Centre man is headed to state prison after admitting to stealing more than $429,000 while working as an executive for a company that owned dozens of Dunkin’ Donuts franchises, Nassau County prosecutors said Thursday.

Christopher Cortese, 57, was sentenced Jan. 16 to serve between 1 1/2 and 4 1/2 years behind bars after pleading guilty to a second-degree grand larceny charge. Nassau County Court Judge Phillip Grella also ordered him to repay $429,555.84, the total amount he is alleged to have stolen, and a $300 court surcharge.

Cortese, prosecutors said, was hired in 2005 as the chief financial officer for Kainos Partners Holding, a corporation that owned and operated over 50 Dunkin’ Donuts franchises. Company executives became suspicious in 2009 after they found “a number of financial irregularities,” the district attorney’s office said.

Those irregularities included $53,5000 in purchases for a home office, $60,000 in gift cards and $100,000 spent on trips, meals and other expenses, prosecutors said.

Authorities said Cortese also hired his two girlfriends as consultants to the company and paid one of them more than $109,000 “for information technology services that were never performed.” He also allegedly arranged for her to receive health and dental benefits, even though she wasn’t an eligible employee.

Company cash, prosecutors allege, was also dished out to pay for lease installments on his girlfriend’s Mercedes Benz. His other girlfriend was allegedly wrongfully paid $20,000.

The company fired Cortese about a month after launching their investigation. They later turned the information over to prosecutors.

“Though Mr. Cortese stole almost half a million dollars from a business, this is no victimless crime,” Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said. “By committing these acts, Mr. Cortese hurt innocent colleagues of the company he defrauded and violated the trust all employees put in their employees.”

Records show Cortese was being taken into custody after the sentencing and is being held at the Nassau County Jail.

His attorney did not respond to an email Thursday requesting comment.

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