An East Islip woman has been accused of embezzling more...

An East Islip woman has been accused of embezzling more than $450,000 from the Diocese of Rockville Centre and a Roman Catholic church in Seaford where she worked as an assistant to the pastor, according to the Nassau County District Attorney's Office.

Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

An East Islip woman allegedly embezzled more than $450,000 from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre and a Seaford church where she worked as an assistant to the pastor, Nassau County prosecutors said. 

Iris Gomez, 43, used the money to buy a Peloton bike, eat out at fine restaurants, get her nails done and pay school tuition, court papers said.

Gomez pleaded not guilty Monday at her arraignment in Mineola to charges of second- and third-degree grand larceny, first-degree scheme to defraud, third-and fourth-degree criminal tax fraud and three counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing.

Acting Supreme Court Judge Robert Schwartz released Gomez without bail. She faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

“Gomez allegedly deposited checks into the bank account of a limited liability corporation, concealed her control of the company and falsely claimed it provided various services to the religious institutions,” said Nassau District Attorney Anne Donnelly in a statement. “Parishioners give to their local churches to strengthen their congregations and community. Their charitable contributions should never be used by deceitful employees to line their own pockets.”

Bruce Barket, Gomez’s Garden City based defense attorney, said his "client denies the allegations and is eager to have her name cleared."

Prosecutors contend that between June 2019 and January 2022, Gomez embezzled $35,574 from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre and $427,140 from St. William the Abbot Church in Seaford, where she worked.

In August of 2018, Gomez began working as an assistant to the Rev. Joseph Fitzgerald at the Diocese and a year later followed him to his new position at St. William, continuing to work for him into 2022.

Fitzgerald is a well-known priest in the diocese who competed in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and for a decade traveled to 50 countries as part of the U.S. national team handball squad.

Gomez’s responsibilities included reviewing and ordering vocation materials for distribution at Diocese events and ensuring that payments were made to companies contracted by St. William to provide technological upgrades to the church.

Between June 2019 and August 2019, Gomez allegedly presented multiple invoices for a company called GBL Media and Designs, claiming the business had done printing and design work for promotional items for the Diocese, prosecutors said.

But the investigation determined that GBL invoices were fabricated and the company had not done any work done for the Diocese, officials said.

Investigators later determined that Gomez’s home address was listed on the Department of State registry for the phony company and the checks for each of the invoices were deposited into an account for which she had sole access.

Gomez allegedly continued the same fraud at St. William, submitting phony invoices on behalf of GBL for technological upgrades at the church, under the guise that they had been approved by the pastor, prosecutors said.

Bank records show that 59 checks from St. William, totaling more than $427,000, were deposited into GBL’s account from June 2019 through January 2022.

Gomez was terminated on Feb. 4, 2022 and arrested more than five months later by Nassau County Police.

She is due back in court on Aug. 18.

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