Home Courts Feds and law firm accuse IT officer and associate of stealing $900,000

Feds and law firm accuse IT officer and associate of stealing $900,000

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An Orange County duo has been ordered to stop using funds originating from a New Jersey law firm, in a civil lawsuit that dovetails with criminal charges accusing them of stealing $900,000.

Budd Larner PC, a Short Hills, New Jersey law firm, accused Rocco Romeo and Jacqueline Galler of racketeering, in a lawsuit filed Feb. 25 in federal court in White Plains.

law firmThe FBI had accused the pair earlier last month of money laundering and wire fraud.

Romeo and Galler did not respond to emails asking for their side of the story.

Romeo, of Washingtonville, had been Budd Larner’s chief technology officer since 2000, according to his LinkedIn profile. He described his job, in part, as ensuring data integrity and minimizing risk “by maintaining strong IT controls and complying with standards.”

Galler, who is also known as Star Galler, lives in Sugar Loaf and runs a yarn store in Monroe.

In the criminal case the pair is accused of siphoning law firm funds into personal accounts from August 2015 to December 2018.

They incorporated a shell company and set up Paypal, WePay and bank accounts, according to an arrest warrant affidavit by an FBI agent, using variations of the name Seventech.

Then they allegedly invoiced the law firm for technology services, and Romeo, as head of IT, paid the bills with his company credit card.

When payments arrived in their Paypal or WePay accounts, according to the affidavit, funds were transferred to their bank accounts. Then they allegedly withdrew money from ATMs, made online payments to a credit card or for personal expenses, or transferred funds to other accounts.

The law firm discovered excessive spending in its information technology department during a businesswide cost review last summer. Nearly $900,000 in charges to Seventech were flagged, for services such as data center hosting, virtual private network services and backup solutions that another vendor was providing.

When the firm confronted Romeo, according to the FBI affidavit, he claimed that Seventech was composed of former Silicon Valley tech employees who were violating nondisclosure agreements with their previous employees. All communications with Seventech, he allegedly said, must go through him.

The FBI linked Romeo and Galler by IP addresses and bank accounts registered to their home addresses, cellphone records and surveillance of Romeo leaving Galler’s home.

Romeo and Galler were released from custody Feb. 6, after posting $100,000 bonds.

U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel issued a temporary restraining order Feb. 26 in the Budd Larner lawsuit, barring Romeo and Galler from accessing or using any of the funds that were “the product of credit card payments made by Romeo through the use of his corporate Budd Larner credit card.”

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