Ex-bookkeeper busted for embezzling $485K from Queens special needs school

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A Long Island woman was charged for allegedly embezzling more than $485,000 from a special needs school in Springfield Gardens where she was employed as  a bookkeeper.
A Long Island woman was charged for allegedly embezzling more than $485,000 from a special needs school in Springfield Gardens where she was employed as a bookkeeper.

A woman has been charged for embezzling from the Springfield Gardens special needs school where she worked as a bookkeeper for more than a decade, District Attorney Richard Brown said Thursday.

Donna Joyce, a 58-year-old Long Island resident, is accused of stealing more than $485,000 from the Martin De Porres School, which moved to Elmont, Long Island in 2012.

Joyce worked as a bookkeeper at Martin De Porres from 2001 to 2012, and, as part of her job, issued and signed checks, and made entries in the school’s business records, according to Brown.

After discovering financial irregularities in the school’s finance office, Martin De Porres Executive Director Edward Dana said he fired Joyce and notified authorities.

“We also acted quickly to replace the entire financial staff and implement strict new financial controls. Moving forward, we have full confidence in the integrity of our new system,” he said.

From January 2007 to August 2012, Joyce used funds meant for school expenses to pay personal expenses, such as her credit card accounts, the district attorney said. She allegedly embezzled the money by making false entries in the school’s business records to make it seem like the checks were being issued for school expenses.

“As a nonprofit organization, the Martin De Porres School relies heavily on government aid and private donations to provide tuition-free education to scores of children from grade two through grade eleven,” Brown said. “In an atmosphere of such giving, it is disheartening to see someone, such as the defendant, allegedly use her position of fiscal responsibility to siphon off hundreds of thousands of dollars in school funds for her own personal use.”

Joyce is currently awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on charges of grand larceny and falsifying business records, according to prosecutors. If convicted, she faces up to 15 years in prison.

 

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