Masa Bookkeeper Charged with Stealing Nearly $100K from High-End Eatery

By Ben Fractenberg on January 17, 2013 5:02pm 

 Fried calamari at Bar Masa in the Time Warner Center. Rafael Thomas was indicted Jan. 17, 2013 on charges he stole about $96,000 from Masa while working as the eatery's bookkeeper.
Fried calamari at Bar Masa in the Time Warner Center. Rafael Thomas was indicted Jan. 17, 2013 on charges he stole about $96,000 from Masa while working as the eatery's bookkeeper.
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UPPER WEST SIDE — A former bookkeeper at Masa was indicted in New York State Supreme Court Thursday on charges he stole nearly $100,000 from the high-end sushi restaurant.

Rafael Thomas, 41, allegedly skimmed about $96,000 from the Time Warner Center eatery — where meals run at least $400 per person for dinner — between Jan. 1, 2011 and Feb. 1 2012 through falsifying business records, according to the Manhattan District Attorney's office.

“This was a raw deal for a hot restaurant,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement. “This defendant is charged with cooking the books for more than a year at one of the top dining establishments in the country."

Thomas — who started working for Masa in January 2011 and eventually oversaw the restaurant's day-to-day finances — allegedly manipulated payroll records to increase his base salary from $52,000 to about $86,000, prosecutors said.

He also skimmed small amounts of money by depositing $100 or $200 less than the previous night's sales into the eatery's operating account, the DA's office said. Over a six-month period, he allegedly stole $44,000 from daily cash sales.

Thomas additionally pilfered about $12,500 through cashing 21 corporate checks, which were supposed to be used for the restaurants emergency expenses, according to the DA's office. He then allegedly entered bogus expenses into Masa's business records for food, uniforms and travel to cover his tracks.

He was charged with grand larceny and falsifying business records and faces between five and 15 years if convicted on the top charge, according to the DA's office.

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