Feds: Ex-COO for credit union pleads guilty to embezzlement
The former chief operating officer of the Winthrop University Hospital Employees Federal Credit Union in Mineola pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to embezzling more than $465,000 to fund a "lavish lifestyle," authorities said.
Suzanne Silva, 35, of Carle Place, faces up to 30 years in prison. She must pay restitution of $465,172 — the amount she embezzled over seven years to spend on overseas travel and online purchases — and a fine of up to $1 million, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York.
The credit union is a separate business entity sponsored by NYU Winthrop Hospital, officials have said. Silva was suspended by the credit union and resigned in June 2018 after her September indictment on a single charge of embezzlement.
“Forensic accountants who were brought in to investigate the alleged misappropriation of funds concluded that no employee funds were affected and that the monies that were taken came exclusively from credit union assets," hospital spokesman J. Edmund Keating said in a statement Wednesday. "The federal credit union is insured and bonded, and the embezzlement did not adversely impact the credit union’s operations nor any member’s assets.”
Silva transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars from the credit union's operating accounts to accounts in her name and names of family members between March 2011 and June 2018, the release stated. She took Caribbean cruises and traveled to Cancun with the stolen money and also paid thousands of dollars a month for purchases from Amazon and Etsy, authorities said.
Her plea took place Wednesday at U.S. District Court in Central Islip.
Tracey L. Eadie Gaffey, Silva’s public defender, declined to comment.
“Silva has admitted that she abused her authority as Chief Operating Officer by stealing funds from the Credit Union for personal travel and shopping sprees,” Richard Donoghue, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in the release. “Today’s guilty plea sends the message that those who engage in such criminal conduct will be caught and prosecuted.”