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Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.

District Attorney, New York County

For Immediate Release
January 17, 2013

DA VANCE: BOOKKEEPER INDICTED FOR STEALING NEARLY $100,000 FROM MASA RESTAURANT

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the indictment of RAFAEL THOMAS, 41, for stealing nearly $100,000 from Masa NY, LLC (“Masa”) restaurant, where he was previously employed as a bookkeeper. The defendant is charged in New York State Supreme Court with one count of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree and 20 counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree.[1]

“This was a raw deal for a hot restaurant,” said District Attorney Vance. “This defendant is charged with cooking the books for more than a year at one of the top dining establishments in the country. Every case is important to its victims and to this Office’s Special Prosecutions Bureau, from the fake attorney who steals $1,600 from immigrants to the person who steals from a restaurant where bills can easily reach $1,600 a meal.”

Masa is located in the Time Warner Center in Manhattan.  According to documents filed in court, THOMAS was hired as a bookkeeper at Masa in January 2011. Over time, he was entrusted with overseeing the restaurant’s day-to-day finances, until he eventually became the sole employee responsible for depositing funds from all cash sales, processing payroll payments, and reconciling Masa’s operating business account against revenues and expenditures. According to the charges, between January 1, 2011 and February 1, 2012, the defendant stole approximately $96,000 from Masa by abusing his position of trust and falsifying business records to conceal his theft.

Around January 2012, Masa’s manager discovered that THOMAS had added approximately $34,000 to his base salary of $52,000 between August and December 2011 by allegedly manipulating and entering false information into the restaurant’s payroll records. The defendant is accused of at times doubling, tripling, or even quadrupling his salary through unapproved wage increases. In fact, for three consecutive weeks, THOMAS paid himself his regular salary in addition to 80 hours of vacation pay.

One of the defendant’s duties included depositing cash from the previous night’s sales into Masa’s operating account and entering the information into Masa’s records. Beginning on or about June 5, 2011, THOMAS is accused of skimming small amounts of cash from daily sales by depositing into Masa’s operating account $100 to $200 less than the total amount of the previous night’s sales. Over a six-month period, the defendant’s skimming from the daily sales deposits increased substantially, culminating in the theft of approximately $44,000 in daily cash sales.

THOMAS is additionally accused of stealing approximately $12,500 by cashing 21 corporate checks. By making the checks out to “cash” and using his passport as identification, the defendant was able to steal money intended to be used for the restaurant’s emergency expenses. Rather than submitting receipts detailing the nature of his purchases or explaining the need for the cash, as he was required to do, he entered phony expenses for food, uniforms, and travel into Masa’s business records.

Assistant District Attorney José A. Fanjul is handling the prosecution of this case, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Thomas Wornom, Chief of Special Prosecutions, and Assistant District Attorneys Judy Salwen and Archana Rao, Deputy Chiefs of Special Prosecutions. Investigator Jose Vasquez, Trial Preparation Assistant Colleen MacPhee and Senior Account Investigator Elodia Marco also assisted with this case.

Defendant Information:

RAFAEL THOMAS, 06/24/1971
Bronx, New York

Charges:

  • Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 1 count
  • Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, a class E felony, 20 counts

[1] The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.