FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Two Former Employees of Brooklyn Nonprofit Indicted for Stealing
Approximately $17,000 from Nonprofit and Immigrant Clients
Allegedly Embezzled Fees, Altered Records and Charged Clients for Services Not Performed
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that two former employees of a Sunset Park nonprofit that provides free and low-cost immigration services have been indicted for stealing approximately $17,000 from the nonprofit and at least five clients seeking assistance.
District Attorney Thompson said, “These defendants not only preyed upon and stole from vulnerable people seeking help, they also undermined the valuable work of a local organization trying to provide much-needed services to Brooklyn’s immigrant community.”
The District Attorney identified the defendants as Nancy Robayo, 50, and her daughter, Elisa Lascano, 33, of Brooklyn. The defendants are variously charged in a 12-count indictment with first-degree scheme to defraud, first-degree falsifying business records, two counts of third-degree grand larceny, three counts of fourth-degree grand larceny and two counts of petit larceny. Nancy Robayo is charged with three counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument. Robayo was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun. Lascano was arraigned on September 7, 2016. Both defendants were released without bail and ordered to return to court on November 2, 2016.
The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, between November 2014 and February 2016, the defendants allegedly acted together to steal at least $7,000 from the Juan Neumann Center, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the Basilica of our Lady of Perpetual Help, and defraud its clients of another $10,000. Both defendants were employed by the center – Robayo as a book keeper and Lascano in a clerical position.
Furthermore, according to the investigation, in the alleged $7,000 theft, the defendants stole parts of fees collected from clients for immigration services provided at the center. The defendants also allegedly defrauded at least five clients of approximately $10,000 by taking payments the clients made for services they believed were going to be provided by the center. In some cases, the defendants allegedly didn’t provide the promised service. In other cases, they either overcharged clients for services, keeping some or all of the money, or they charged for services that the center provided for free and kept some or all of the money.
The defendants’ duties and responsibilities at the center included collecting payments, maintaining receipt books and submitting immigration forms to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. The defendants allegedly concealed their theft by altering amounts written on carbon copies of receipts, misreporting the amounts written on the receipts, maintaining separate receipt books hidden from the center and warning their clients to speak only with them and to no other employees regarding their petitions and applications.
The alleged theft and fraud were discovered when another employee at the center was reviewing records and found that more than $7,000 in client receipts was not recorded in the log books and was missing from the center’s bank account. Robayo later turned herself in to the police and admitted to stealing approximately $7,000.
The District Attorney thanked Camille Mackler, Director of Legal Initiatives of the New York Immigration Coalition, for her assistance in the investigation.
The case was investigated by Detective Investigator Alfredo Nunez, of the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Chief William Pettie; and Veronica Beltran, Financial Investigator, Roseann Schembri, Financial Analyst, and Adrienne Ward, of the Asset Forfeiture and Crimes Against Revenue Bureau, under the supervision of Chief Financial Investigator Michael Campi.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney José Interiano, of the District Attorney’s Immigrant Fraud Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Kin Ng, Unit Chief, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division and Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.