The principal of a Freeport-based payroll company was arrested Wednesday in the theft of nearly $430,000 from a client's bank account over a three-year period, the Nassau district attorney said.
George Pozo, 42, was president of KGP Payroll Services, which he ran from his home, and was authorized to take money from a Baldwin-based client's account to pay federal and state payroll taxes, prosecutors said.
From January 2009 to early November 2011, he withdrew $686,859.97 electronically from his client's account but forwarded $256,864 to pay taxes, sending the rest to his company's operating account, authorities said.
After the case was referred to the district attorney's office in June 2013, investigators found almost $87,000 in checks were drawn from the KGP account and made payable to Pozo and his wife before the company's operating account closed in January 2013 with a zero balance, prosecutors said.
Pozo, of 114 Park Ave., Freeport, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on a charge of second-degree grand larceny. He was released with certain conditions. If convicted, he would face 5 to 15 years in prison, authorities said.
His attorney, Michael DerGarabedian, of Rockville Centre, said he has not seen any evidence and is "skeptical" of the prosecution's case.
"If he's this evil, you don't let him continue working for a year and a half," the attorney said. "Why does it take a year and half if it's that much of an open and shut case?"
DerGarabedian said KGP Payroll Services was based on Woodcleft Avenue near Pozo's home before superstorm Sandy flooded the office in 2012 and destroyed most of the paperwork. Pozo then ran the company out of his home, the attorney said, but eventually shut it down.
Authorities said details on what happened to the rest of the money were not immediately available Wednesday afternoon but noted that Pozo did not use the funds for the his client's needs. Details on how the money was spent also were not immediately available.
"When this defendant stole funds from this company, he put the fiscal health of his client's business and the jobs of dozens of employees at risk for his own personal gain," District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a news release.
When he was arrested, Pozo said he was a self-employed accountant, authorities said.