The former comptroller of two town of Poughkeepsie companies has been accused of embezzling $2.5 million.
Mark Cina, 56, Pleasant Valley, was charged on July 7 with mail fraud in federal court in White Plains.
Cina allegedly used embezzled money to gamble, pay rent, dine out and pay for other personal expenses from 2009 to 2015, according to a news release from acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim.
An attorney for Cina was unavailable to comment on behalf of his client.
Cina was hired in 2008 as a part-time bookkeeper for Atlantis Energy Systems, a solar products manufacturer. By 2010, he was the full-time comptroller for Atlantis and Business Systems Technology, a plastics fabricator, both owned by Frank Pao.
He had check-signing authority for both companies and use of their credit cards and ATM cards, according to a criminal complaint by Greg T. Ghiozzi, a postal inspector. He is accused of diverting money under the guise of paying for business expenses.
Pao regularly transferred money to Atlantis when Cina asked for additional funds for payrolls.
In 2013 and 2014, Pao had to deal with serious health problems and he became less involved in his companies. Cina was primarily responsible for day-to-day finances.
When Pao’s health improved in 2015, he looked more closely at the finances and noticed discrepancies. Checks totaling $194,000, for example, were made out to cash purportedly to repay a loan to Pao, yet Pao had not received the money.
Pao fired Cina, reported his suspicions to state police and hired an accounting firm to investigate.
The accountant’s report identified many expenditures that were unauthorized, the complaint states, and had no apparent business purposes.
About $457,000 was spent, for example, at a Poughkeepsie minimart. Employees of Pao’s companies told investigators that they had seen Cina with scratch-off lottery tickets, which are sold at the minimart.
Checks, credit cards and debit cards were allegedly used to withdraw $825,000 in cash, pay $599,000 to Cina personally, cash $282,000, pay $180,000 at a gas station, pay $125,000 to his credit union for personal credit card bills and pay $25,000 to his apartment complex.
Investigators found charges to pharmacies, medical and dental offices, a rental car company, a car wash, an inmate phone service and, purportedly, for loans from family members. Some checks were mailed to a post office box in Newark, New Jersey.
Checks noted “accounting fee,” “medical reimbursement” or “loan repay” as justifications. Most of the transactions were made in Poughkeepsie where the companies are located, Pleasant Valley where he lives and Huntsville, Alabama where his wife’s family lived.
Michael S. Pollok, Pao’s attorney, thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Dutchess County District Attorney, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Internal Revenue Service and state police for “bringing Mark Cina to justice.
“My clients entrusted their businesses to Mr. Cina, who used his fiduciary position of trust to systematically steal millions of dollars from our clients when the elderly owner of the companies fell ill.”
Ute Hopp, an Atlantis manager, said the company is restructuring partly because of the alleged embezzlement.
“It’s been very bad for us,” she said. “I never seen that coming. I thought he was an upstanding guy.”