A personal assistant and bookkeeper has been arrested on charges of stealing more than $200,000 from a nonprofit autism awareness foundation and her employer, Nassau prosecutors said Tuesday.
The suspect, Pamela Efraimov, 39, was employed from 2005 to 2012 as the personal assistant and bookkeeper to the president-owner of Katherine Bishop Ltd., a women's apparel wholesaler.
After her boss' death in June 2010, the man's widow kept Efraimov on so she could close the books on the business, according to a statement from the office of Nassau District Attorney Katherine Rice. Efraimov also assisted the widow with the bookkeeping for The Nicholas Center for Autism and Spectrum Designs Foundation, a nonprofit the widow had founded.
After noticing some irregularities with cash deposits for the foundation and bouncing checks for the Katherine Bishop account, the widow confronted Efraimov in September 2012, prosecutors said.
Efraimov was fired the next month, and an audit revealed that she had instructed the bank to stop sending paper statements, Rice's office said.
She was arrested Tuesday on charges of second-degree grand larceny, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and first-degree falsifying business records, prosecutors said.
Efraimov, who faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted, pleaded not guilty to the charges before District Court Judge Colin O'Donnell in First District Court in Hempstead and was released without bail. She is due back in court May 23.
Prosecutors said the audit discovered Efraimov "had altered 64 checks from January 2011 to September 2012 to hide that she had written the checks to herself, totaling more than $150,000."
It also found "Efraimov had made unauthorized transfers from the Katherine Bishop account to her personal bank accounts totaling more than $10,000, forged the widow's signature on 73 checks made out to Efraimov totaling more than $45,000, and used the Katherine Bishop account to make online payments to her personal credit cards. Efraimov also used the cash to purchase luxury goods like Prada boots, Louis Vuitton handbags and King Baby jewelry," the statement said.
Rice said in the statement that Efraimov's actions were "appalling," especially because the victims were a grieving widow and a children's nonprofit.
With Ann Givens