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Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.

District Attorney, New York County

For Immediate Release
December 30, 2014

DA VANCE: FINANCIAL CONSULTANT INDICTED FOR EMBEZZLING MORE THAN $250,000 FROM POPULAR MANHATTAN RESTAURANTS

Defendant Allegedly Diverted Checks To and From Whitehall, Agave, and Highlands Restaurants to Own Account

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the indictment of JOHN McKEE, 40, a financial consultant, for embezzling more than $250,000 from three West Village restaurants, including Whitehall, Agave, and Highlands. The defendant is charged in New York State Supreme Court with multiple counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree and one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree.[1] 

“As we approach the new year, businesses large and small need to be on alert for potential fraud and carefully review their finances,” said District Attorney Vance. “As a result of this alleged theft, three popular Manhattan restaurants suffered significant losses. This case – like so many others involving breaches of trust by an employee – demonstrates the importance of conducting proper due diligence, especially when hiring and overseeing financial professionals.”

According to the indictment and statements made on the record in court, between March 2012 and August 2014, McKEE, who owns an accounting company called Bambina Magra, was hired as a financial consultant by three restaurants in the West Village: Whitehall, Highlands, and Agave. In his role as the clients’ consultant, the defendant was authorized to write and sign checks to restaurant vendors and to his own company for compensation. McKEE, however, allegedly stole tens of thousands of dollars by depositing unauthorized checks in excess of his prearranged fees into his company’s account. McKEE is also charged with diverting and depositing checks made out to his clients’ vendors and checks written by outside parties to the Bambina Magra account which he controlled.

As a result of the defendant’s alleged conduct, more than $72,000 worth of payments to or from Whitehall, more than $80,000 worth of payments to or from Highlands, and approximately $102,000 worth of payments to or from Agave were deposited into the Bambina Magra account without authorization, totaling nearly $255,000 in theft.

The investigation is ongoing.

Assistant District Attorney David Crowley is handling 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 and Paralegal Oliver Van Zant, both of the Financial Frauds Bureau, provided assistance with the case.

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

Defendant Information:

JOHN McKEE, D.O.B. 07/06/1974
New York, NY

Charged:
•    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

[1] The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. All factual recitations are derived from documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court.