Bookkeeper scam netted $2.3M: DA

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A judge ordered the bookkeeper for a Long Island City elevator company held without bail last Thursday after prosecutors accused her of performing creative accounting to land $2.3 million of the company payroll into her personal bank account, authorities said.

Maria Villa, 48, of 24-27 77th St. in East Elmhurst, was charged with grand larceny and falsifying business records at her arraignment last Thursday in Queens Criminal Court before Judge Susan Melendez, a spokeswoman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Melendez did not set bail, ordering Villa to stay in custody at the women's jail on Riker's Island.

"Given the amount of money at issue, I'm sure the judge's position was ... (she) might try to flee the jurisdiction or flee the country and not return to court," said Villa's attorney, Adam Thompson, in a phone interview Friday. "I disagree with that. I don't think she has anything in her background or history to suggest she would not return."

Prosecutors allege that Villa, a 15-year employee of the P.S. Marcato Elevator Company at 44-11 11th St. in Long Island City, directed the company's payroll firm to wire $2.3 million of company funds into her personal bank account between November 2000 and June 2002.

She amassed the millions of dollars on an incremental basis, Brown said, diverting funds in amounts ranging from $2,000 to $23,000 a week to her Chase bank branch on Jackson Avenue in Long Island City.

She allegedly falsified employee payroll and expense account reports to cover her tracks, the DA said.

The company uncovered her alleged scheme last week when an internal audit revealed substantial losses, Brown said. Villa was arrested the night of Feb. 5 after company officials notified the DA's office about the irregularities.

This is not the first time Villa has been accused of stealing. She served an approximately 60-day sentence in the spring of 1990 for a grand larceny conviction, said John Mohan, a spokesman for the city Department of Correction.

Thompson said he could not comment about the previous conviction but stressed that the current case is still in its early stages.

"Once all the facts are examined and everything comes to the surface, I'm sure the case will be resolved to everyone's satisfaction," Thompson said. "The allegations as they stand are not as clear-cut as they appear on the surface."

Founded in 1981, the P.S. Marcato Elevator Company performs elevator maintenance, modernization and repair. It employs about 200 people and reports about $20 million in annual earnings, Brown said.

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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