MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that a Merrick woman pled guilty yesterday to embezzling more than $180,000 from church accounts over a period of five years.
Therese Iuzzolino, 45, of Merrick pleaded guilty yesterday before Judge Robert Schwartz to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a D felony). The defendant is due back in court on April 29 and is expected to be sentenced to six months in jail and five years of probation. The defendant will also be required to pay restitution in the amount of $25,000 at the time of sentence and then to continue paying restitution as a special condition of her probation. There will also be both a confession of judgment and a restitution order from the court for the remainder of the $183,203.64.
“This defendant was a trusted member of the St. Mary’s Church family, but abused that trust and stole more than $180,000 from church coffers,” DA Singas said. “Stealing from a house of worship is an especially contemptible act and I am grateful to St. Mary’s for their cooperation during this case.”
DA Singas said that from December 2011 to April 2017, the defendant stole $183,203.64 from St. Mary’s Church in Roslyn Harbor by making online payments from the church’s bank account for various personal credit cards, as well as by creating several electronic check vouchers.
At the time of the theft, the defendant worked as a part-time bookkeeper for the church and was responsible for preparing QuickBooks checks, maintaining the QuickBooks ledger, reviewing invoices and reconciling bank statements.
To conceal the theft, Iuzzolino falsified various church records by deleting deposit and withdrawal entries. The theft was discovered in May 2017 after the bank called the church regarding a suspicious $5,000 check drawn on a church account. Iuzzolino was later fired.
The defendant spent the money, some of which came from the church’s collections from parishioners, on payments to a jeweler and an automobile dealer, as well as toy stores, gun shops, dental expenses, computers, fast food, and entertainment.
To date, the church has been fully reimbursed by the Diocese of Rockville Centre, so all restitution funds will be paid to the Diocese.
Deputy Bureau Chief Peter Mancuso of DA Singas’ Financial Crimes Bureau is prosecuting this case. The defendant is represented J. Caesar Galarza, Esq.