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DA: Woman stole $300G from Great Neck employer

A West Babylon woman accused of stealing more than $300,000 from her employer, a building contractor, was held at the Nassau County jail overnight after arraignment Thursday on a grand larceny charge, court records show.

Onesta Reyes, 48, stole the money while working as a bookkeeper for a Great Neck contractor during the past two years -- and she spent the money on jewelry, shoes and clothing, prosecutors said.

Reyes improperly inflated her own $48,000 salary to more than $200,000 and paid herself nearly $90,000 in expenses, while also creating a fictitious employee -- whom she dubbed Onesta V. Reyes -- to pay herself another $22,000, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a statement

"The notion that this defendant would steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from her employer is bad enough, but to know that she used the money to add to her wardrobe is truly stunning," Rice said in the prepared statement.

"Now she faces a criminal conviction and years in a prison cell for this abuse of her employer's trust," Rice said.

Reyes was arrested Thursday and arraigned the same day at First District Court, Hempstead, on a single charge of second-degree grand larceny. Bail was set at $30,000 bond or $25,000 cash, which she had not posted as of Friday morning, court records showed. The maximum penalty for the charge is 15 years' imprisonment.

"Reyes used the cash to support her shopping habits, spending the money on clothing, shoes, and jewelry," Rice said. She said the theft was discovered by an internal audit and was sent to prosecutors in May.

As bookkeeper for the contractor, she used her access to payroll and billings to embezzle a total of $316,639 from January 2011 to May 2012 "in gross earnings and unearned reimbursements," Rice's office said.

For 2011 she raised her own salary from $48,720 to $239,893, prosecutors said.

She also reimbursed herself for $89,000 in false expenses claims from January to November 2011 and paid "Onesta V. Reyes," the fake employee, a gross salary of $22,729 from October to December 2011. She also paid herself for phony expenses of $1,500 in October and November 2011 and $11,815 from April to May, prosecutors said.

The employer, whose name was not provided by Rice's office, fired her in June, prosecutors said.

Court records, which do not list a lawyer for her, show Reyes' next court date is Monday.

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