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DA: Ex-bookkeeper admits stealing over $316,000 from contractor

Onesta Reyes, 49, of West Babylon, pleaded guilty

Onesta Reyes, 49, of West Babylon, pleaded guilty before Nassau County Court Judge Jerald Carter to second-degree grand larceny on Thursday, April 2, 2014, authorities said. She is seen here in a file photo from Jan. 22, 2013. Credit: Nassau County DA

A West Babylon woman pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing over $316,000 from a Great Neck contracting company where she worked as a bookkeeper -- and spending the money on jewelry, clothes and shoes, prosecutors said.

Onesta Reyes, 49, inflated her salary, "creating fake employees, and reimbursing herself for phony expenses," the Nassau County district attorney's office said in a news release.

Reyes pleaded guilty before Nassau County Court Judge Jerald Carter to second-degree grand larceny, a C felony, authorities said. She is due to return to court June 11.

Prosecutors said they will request 2 to 6 years in prison and full restitution to the undisclosed company.

"In this case, the shock of someone stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from her employer to update her wardrobe is matched only by the brazen manner in which she committed these crimes," District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a news release.

Reyes' Manhattan attorney, Daniel Graber, said: "Onesta feels terrible about what happened, and she hopes that her guilty plea will help to begin to make amends."

Between January 2011 and May 2012, "Reyes embezzled a total of $316,639.40 in gross earnings and unearned reimbursements" from her employer, the district attorney said in a statement. "As bookkeeper, her duties included overseeing the payroll and billings. She used her access to the payroll system to inflate her 2011 yearly salary from $48,720 to $239,893."

Reyes also reimbursed herself over $89,000 in fraudulent expenses and created a second employee under the name "Onesta V. Reyes," whose salary was $22,729 for the last three months of 2011, prosecutors said.

"Reyes stole an additional $1,500 in bogus expenses during that time period, and stole an additional $11,815 between April 2012 and May 2012," according to the news release.

Reyes used the money to make purchases at Macy's and other stores, prosecutors said.

An internal audit uncovered the theft, and the case was referred to the district attorney's office in May 2012, prosecutors said. Reyes was fired the next month, prosecutors said.

With Patricia Kitchen

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