A Merrick woman has been arrested and charged with stealing more than $450,000 from the real estate firm where she worked as a bookkeeper by paying her bills with the company checkbook and forging her boss’s signature on checks that she made out to her herself, according to Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice.
Joanne Rocca, 67, of Merrick, was arrested Wednesday morning by district attorney investigators and charged with grand larceny in the second degree and 37 counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument. She faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted and was scheduled for arraignment in First District Court in Hempstead on Wednesday afternoon.
Rice said that between July 2004 and April 2011, Rocca used her position as the bookkeeper for a Plainview-based building maintenance and real estate firm to embezzle $456,000 from her employer by arranging automatic payments from the company’s accounts to pay personal bills and forging the owner’s signature on company checks. She allegedly used the stolen cash to pay her cable television, gasoline, grocery, and utility bills, as well as purchase home furnishings.
The alleged theft was discovered in May 2011 when her employer found a company check made out to Rocca’s American Express account on her desk while she was at lunch. Though Rocca denied using company money to pay her own bills, an internal review of the company’s checkbook, bank statements and accounts revealed the extent of Rocca’s theft.
“For Ms. Rocca to steal this much money over such an extended period of time shows a complete disregard for the rule of the law and a total lack of respect for the trust placed in her by her employer,” Rice said.
Assistant District Attorney Peter Mancuso of the District Attorney Office’s Government & Consumer Frauds Bureau is prosecuting the case. Rocca is represented by attorney Anthony LaPinta. He could not be reached for comment at press time.