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Former bookkeeper pleads guilty to stealing more than $300G from Great Neck company

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 woman who pleaded guilty in April to stealing more than $316,000 from the Great Neck contracting company where she worked as a bookkeeper has been sentenced to 1 to 3 years in prison, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Onesta Reyes, 49, of West Babylon, pleaded guilty in April to second-degree grand larceny, a C felony, after a 2012 internal audit uncovered that the bookkeeper had pumped up her salary, created fake employees and reimbursed herself for phony expenses, prosecutors said.

Reyes' attorney, Daniel Graber of Manhattan, said he is "thrilled" with the outcome, since Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice had asked the judge for 2 to 6 years, the defense attorney said. He called Nassau County Court Judge Jerald Carter's decision a "fair sentence."

"Today, she was in good spirits," Graber said of his client, adding that she is a married mother who has never had any previous contact with the criminal justice system. "She is ready to start to try and make amends here for what she did."

In a news release Tuesday, Rice said between January 2011 and May 2012, Reyes embezzled $316,639.40 in inflated earnings and fraudulent reimbursements from her employer.

As a bookkeeper at Chelmsford Contracting Corporation, Reyes used her access to the payroll system to boost her 2011 annual salary from $48,720 to $239,893. Prosecutors said she also reimbursed herself more than $89,000 for phony expenses and created a second employee under the name "Onesta V. Reyes," who was paid $22,729 between October and December 2011.

Reyes claimed an additional $1,500 in bogus expenses during that time, prosecutors said, and stole another $11,815 between April and May 2012.

Rice said the West Babylon woman used the money to buy "clothing, shoes and jewelry at Macy's and other stores."

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. She was initially arrested in January 2013, Graber said.

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