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Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.

District Attorney, New York County

For Immediate Release
July 29, 2015

DA VANCE: FINANCIAL CONSULTANT HIRED BY WEST VILLAGE RESTAURANTS PLEADS GUILTY TO EMBEZZLING MORE THAN $270,000

Defendant Stole Thousands from Whitehall, Agave, Highlands, and Raoul’s Restaurants

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the guilty plea of JOHN McKEE, 41, a financial consultant, for embezzling more than $270,000 from his clients, including four restaurants in the West Village. The defendant pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court to Grand Larceny in the Second Degree and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree. He is expected to be sentenced on September 23, 2015.

“John McKee’s clients suffered significant financial losses, forcing at least one restaurant to shutter its doors forever,” said District Attorney Vance. “Unfortunately, this kind of criminal conduct is all too common, and I encourage businesses to be on alert for similar fraud by employees or other hired professionals.”

As admitted in the defendant’s guilty plea, between March 2012 and August 2014, McKEE was hired as a financial consultant by several restaurants in the West Village: Whitehall, Highlands, Agave, and Raoul’s. McKEE, who owns an accounting company called Bambina Magra, was authorized to write and sign checks to restaurant vendors and to his company for compensation. The defendant, however, stole tens of thousands of dollars from his clients by depositing unauthorized checks in excess of his prearranged fees into his company’s account. McKEE also diverted and deposited checks made out to his clients’ vendors and checks written by outside parties to the company account that McKEE controlled.

As a result of the defendant’s conduct, more than $72,000 worth of payments to or from Whitehall, more than $79,000 worth of payments to or from Highlands, and approximately $103,000 worth of payments to or from Agave were deposited into the Bambina Magra account without authorization, totaling approximately $255,000 in theft. In the case of Raoul’s, McKEE stole more than $18,000 by writing and depositing additional salary checks and vendor checks, as well as paying personal debts with restaurant funds, without authorization.

Assistant District Attorney David Crowley handled the prosecution of the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Archana Rao, Principal Deputy Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau; Assistant District Attorney Michael Sachs, Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau; and Executive Assistant District Attorney David Szuchman, Chief of the Investigation Division. Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Gross, Investigator Anthony Santoro, and Paralegals Oliver Van Zant and Maureen Paparo provided assistance with the case.

District Attorney Vance also thanked Detective Jackson Todd of the NYPD Special Frauds Squad for his assistance with the investigation.

Defendant Information:

JOHN McKEE, D.O.B. 7/06/1974
New York, NY

Convicted:

  • Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 3 counts
  • Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 1 count

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