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Financial corruption colors Flushing native’s first novel

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In "Return to Go," Greif - under pen name Mitchell Graye - hurls the innocent cost-accounting manager Nicholas Powlowski into an $18 million embezzlement inside his fictitious company, Continental Industrial. As Nick sets out to find his saboteur, he discovers the corrupt underbelly of corporate finance.Greif, who has worked in the corporate world as a chief financial officer, an independent consultant and an associate treasurer, is all too familiar with questionable business practices. Greif said he's blown the whistle on cases ranging from petty cash embezzlement to Medicare price gouging. "I've seen a lot of dishonesty and corruption," said Greif. "You'd be amazed at what some individuals can do if a company has weak controls."But "Return to Go" is not intended as a white collar tell-all. Beginning with the death of Nick's mother, "Return to Go" picks up after 20 years of his caring for her in isolation. Finally a free man, Nick unshackles his inner hedonist and takes up drinking, gambling and sleeping with sleazy women. "This is not my life at all," Greif disclaimed, "but I wanted to write about someone who is na•ve and clueless, and then I wanted to get him in trouble."The reader knows by page four that Nick has bigger problems than a few lost rounds of roulette. Continental Industrial has lost millions, and due to some seemingly legitimate paperwork, all signs point to Nick. As the plot thickens, Nick discovers that somebody is going to great lengths to frame him É and the casino and strip-joint expenditures don't help."Nick has previously been unable to travel and grow for a long time," said Greif. "It's fitting that he would be thrown into a scandal and not even notice." The novel alternates between several perspectives and the chapters are as short as one full page. "I didn't want to make my book laborious to read," said Greif. "I wanted plain sentences that would entertain readers and tell the story plainly."Greif began writing 15 years ago while studying business at Baruch College. Though novel writing seems like a departure from his workaday life, he has already written two unpublished novels and several short stories. He currently works as an associate treasurer at New York University, and though he resides in Great Neck, he honors his Queens roots. "Even though I've had the jobs that I have, I'm still a Flushing boy," he said. "I'm still the blue-collar guy playing stickball in the gutter."

Updated 6:57 pm, October 10, 2011
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