A West Babylon woman was sentenced Tuesday for stealing more than $316,000 from the Great Neck contracting company where she worked as a bookkeeper, authorities said.
Onesta Reyes, 49, used the money to buy clothing, shoes and jewelry by inflating her salary, creating fake employees, and reimbursing herself for phony expenses, according to the Nassau County District Attorney’s office.
Reyes, who pleaded guilty in April 2014 to second-degree grand larceny was sentenced to one to three years in prison and ordered to pay $316,639.40 in restitution by Nassau County Court Judge Jerald Carter.
“This defendant put the livelihoods of her co-workers at risk just to enrich herself on the company’s dime,” Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said, in a statement. “Today, she’s being held accountable for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars that could have gone towards hiring actual people looking for work – not fake employees she created to fund her scam.”
Calling the judge's decision a "fair sentence," Daniel Graber, the attorney representing Reyes, told Newsday noted that the DA had initially asked for two-to-six years. He added that Reyes, who is married and has children, had no previous criminal record and "is ready to start to try and make amends here for what she did."
Rice said that between January 2011 and May 2012, Reyes embezzled a total of $316,639.40 in gross earnings and unearned reimbursements from her employer. As bookkeeper, her duties included overseeing the payroll and billings. She used her access to the payroll system to inflate her 2011 yearly salary from $48,720 to $239,893.
In addition, Reyes reimbursed herself more than $89,000 in fraudulent expenses between January 2011 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. Reyes stole an additional $1,500 in bogus expenses during that time period, and stole an additional $11,815 between April 2012 and May 2012, according to the DA’s office.
Reyes used the cash to buy clothing, shoes, and jewelry at Macy’s and other stores. The theft was discovered by an internal audit and referred to the Nassau County District Attorney’s office for investigation in May 2012. Reyes was terminated in June 2012.