DUMONT, N.J. -- A Dumont bookkeeper with a gambling habit was sentenced to nine years in prison in Hackensack yesterday for embezzling $509,000 from a Ramsey flooring company and putting the business in jeopardy.
Superior Court Judge Margaret M. Foti sentenced Monica Arencibia to one year short of the maximum for the second-degree theft conviction after the owners of Modern Flooring made impassioned pleas for justice.
Claire Perazzo described how Arencibia endangered the livelihoods of more than two dozen employees of the 83-year old company. Perazzo herself lost her parents' modest home on Cape Cod and had to return to work without a salary.
Her husband, Gary, described himself as “a very trusting person,” which ended in “havoc” caused by Arencibia’s deceptions. “She knew all these people personally."
There were times, he told the judge, when she came to him and said, "We need some money, we’re not going to make payroll” when, at the same time, she was siphoning off thousands in checks to herself.
“To the naked eye, the books looked perfect,” Perazzo said.
However, he said, a forensic accountant found that she "had multiple secret passwords and used very devious and calculated methods” to forge enough checks to fill a binder four inches thick.
In doing so, Arencibia damaged the business' reputation among clients and vendors, he said. The couple "had to tell the bank,” knowing a loan could be called in, Perazzo said.
They took a second mortgage on their house, he said, adding “there is no retirement for me or my wife.”
Defense attorney Ian Hirsch blamed a gambling addiction.
The judge said she decided on the sentence because of the degree of harm, the risk of re-offending and the serious breach of trust.
"The victims argued eloquently today that they have suffered multiple hardships,” Foti said, adding: “It’s not the first time she committed crimes involving checks."
The sentence carries parole eligibility in three years. Arencibia has 467 days of jail credit -- about 16 months -- which means she could be released in 2017.
The judge also ordered her to pay $509,000 in restitution, although the victims and the prosecutor said it was unlikely she’d be able to.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.