A former bookkeeper from Westbury is charged with giving checks to herself from a local union, embezzling more than $120,000, Nassau County prosecutors said Friday.
Jennifer Jira, 40, is charged with second-degree grand larceny and five counts of first-degree falsifying business records, prosecutors said in a news release.
Jira was released on her own recognizance following her arraignment Thursday before Judge Joseph Nocella in Nassau County District Court in Hempstead.
Between June 2015 and August 2021, prosecutors said Jira made 384 checks out to herself from Local 713 International Brotherhood of Trade Union of Garden City. Jira, who was working with the union in April 2014, was responsible for reviewing and recording the union’s financial activity, prosecutors said.
The 384 checks Jira cashed totaled $123,468, prosecutors said. The defendant allegedly cashed more than 300 of the fraudulent checks at check cashing businesses in New Hyde Park, Hempstead and Levittown, and also directly deposited checks into her personal bank account.
The check amounts ranged from $64 to $1230.87, according to prosecutors.
“Slowly, over a period of years, the defendant allegedly leveraged her access to Local 713’s financial accounts to siphon more than $120,000 from its coffers, using the funds to pay for living expenses, clothing, and utilities,” said Nassau District Attorney Anne Donnelly in a statement. “This alleged conduct violates the trust employers put in their employees to do their jobs honestly and with integrity.”
Jira covered up the fraudulent checks by placing false entries in the local union’s accounting software, “altering payee information for the checks to indicate that they had been issued to legitimate vendors,” prosecutors said in the release.
In August 2021, the union conducted an audit after discovering unauthorized checks from their bank account, prosecutors said. Union leaders confronted Jira and she was fired on Sept. 7. The union filed a complaint with the district attorney’s office.
Jira’s attorney, Marc Gann of Mineola, said the checks were written “with the authority of the union president and Ms. Jira, in fact, had no check signing ability on any of these accounts for this union.”
“The idea that these were unauthorized checks I think is a complete mistake,” Gann said.