Doreen Goucher, 62, pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree grand larceny at her arraignment Thursday at First District Court in Hempstead. She was released on $10,000 bond.
Goucher faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said. She is due back in court March 14.
Freeport attorney Mark Silverman is representing Goucher and said his client "contests the charge." He had no further comment.
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said between June 2006 and December 2011 Goucher used her position as bookkeeper for a John F. Capobianco Architects in Inwood to withdraw $258,731 from company accounts without the employer's permission or authority.
In a news release from Rice's office, prosecutors said Goucher's "position gave her unrestricted and unsupervised access to the firm's bank accounts. Goucher forged her employer's signature on approximately 116 checks and then used those checks to pay off her personal credit cards and a home-equity loan."
Goucher hid the thefts by creating unauthorized personal credit and loan accounts that appeared to be legitimate company accounts, the release said. She used the stolen money for dinners at expensive restaurants, shopping and lavish vacations, officials said.
The theft was discovered in an internal audit of the company's finances and then turned over to the district attorney's office in January 2012. Boucher, who worked for the company for 14 years, was fired in December 2011, the release said.
"Workplace theft victimizes every employee and every customer by driving up costs and reducing revenues," Rice said in the release.
Assistant District Attorney William Jorgenson of the Government & Consumer Frauds Bureau is prosecuting the case.