Accused embezzler Rocco Romeo has been ordered to pay nearly $1.1 million to his former employer.
U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel issued a default judgment July 16 after Romeo, of Washingtonville, failed to answer a lawsuit filed by Budd Larner PC, the Short Hills, New Jersey law firm where he was chief technology officer for many years.
The Orange County firm accused Romeo and Jacqueline Galler of Sugar Loaf of racketeering on Feb. 25 in federal court in White Plains. They also were charged criminally with money laundering and wire fraud for allegedly siphoning law firm funds into personal accounts from 2015 to 2018.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mathew Andrews dropped the criminal charges against Galler on May 29 in the “interests of justice.” The criminal charges against Romeo are pending.
UPDATE: On Nov. 4, 2019, Seibel dismissed the lawsuit, after an attorney for Budd Larner notified the court that the parties had reached a settlement.
Romeo and Galler were accused of creating a shell company, setting up banking accounts and invoicing the law firm for technology services. Romeo, as head of IT, paid the bills with a company credit card. Funds were transferred to the private accounts and then withdrawn from ATMs or through online payments.
Last summer the firm discovered $900,000 in suspicious payments to the shell company, for services another vendor had provided.
Galler, who is also known as Star Galler and who runs a yarn shop in Monroe, admitted opening a bank account on behalf of Romeo, in her answer in the civil lawsuit. But she claimed she had no knowledge of Romeo’s transactions.
Romeo told her he was starting a new business, according to a counterclaim she filed against him, he was planning to divorce his wife and he did not want his wife to have any rights to the company.
She claims Romeo had exclusive use of the debit card.
She had relied on his misrepresentations, she said, “to her detriment.” Now she has been implicated in criminal activity and has been sued “for actions committed solely by Romeo.”
Galler asked the court to dismiss the law firm’s complaint and order Romeo to cover her costs if a verdict goes against her.
Galler was represented by David L. Darwin, Ostrer & Associates PC of Chester.