WEST VILLAGE — A financial consultant admitted to embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from West Village eateries, according to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr.
Vance announced the guilty plea on Wednesday, and said the consultant, John McKee, will be sentenced on Sept. 23 for grand larceny in the second degree and scheme to defraud in the first degree.
“John McKee’s clients suffered significant financial losses, forcing at least one restaurant to shutter its doors forever,” Vance said.
The DA warned businesses to be on alert for fraud by employees and hired consultants, saying actions like McKee's are actually quite common.
McKee, 41, was hired as a consultant between March 2012 and August 2014 by several restaurants, including three in the West Village and one in SoHo: Tex-Mex restaurant and tequila bar Agave on Seventh Avenue South, Scottish gastropub Highlands on West 10th Street, English pub Whitehall on Greenwich Avenue, and decades-old Parisian-style bistro Raoul's on Prince Street.
The D.A. said McKee embezzled more than $270,000 over the course of two years.
The businesses had given McKee permission to write and sign checks to restaurant vendors on their behalf, as well as to his own company, Bambina Magra, as payment. But the D.A. said McKee paid himself far more than the businesses agreed to.
McKee also deposited checks made out to the restaurants' vendors, and checks made out to the restaurant, into the Bambina account, the D.A. said.
The consultant deposited more than $72,000 of Whitehall's money and more than $79,000 of Highlands' into his own account, according to the D.A.
He stole the largest sum — about $255,000 — from Agave, the D.A. said.
And McKee stole $18,000 from Raoul's by writing salary checks and checks to vendors, as well as directly paying off personal debts with the restaurant's money.