Bookkeeper charged in elaborate $800K embezzlement scheme
Arrest follows lengthy investigation.
Business Observer Staff
| 7:13 a.m. December 9, 2021
NAPLES — A Naples bookkeeper was arrested last month in what authorities are calling an elaborate embezzlement scheme to steal more than $800,000 from three entities where she worked, including a nonprofit that supports schools and a church in Haiti.
Mary Melissa Chancy, 35, has been charged with grand theft $100,000 or more and scheme to defraud $50,000 or more, according to a statement from the Collier County Sheriff’s office. The arrest follows a two and half year investigation by the Collier County Sheriff’s Office Economic Crimes Unit.
“Our Economic Crimes Unit detectives devoted more than 250 hours to this case,” Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk says in a statement. “This involved tediously dissecting complex business financial documents, obtaining subpoenas from financial institutions, interviewing witnesses and analyzing records to show the movement of money from start to finish.
“Embezzlement cases are typically time consuming and challenging to prove,” he adds. “This is detective work at its finest.”
For three years, detectives allege, Chancy engaged in an “elaborate scheme to embezzle funds from a series of entities operated by Vincent “Cap” Mona and appropriate the money to her personal use,” the release states.
In May 2019, Mona told detectives he believed his bookkeeper, Chancy, had misappropriated $570,000 from three of his entities: Three Palms Design Build LLC, Clinton Investment Group LLC and Cap Mona Angel Fund — a charitable organization Mona established to provide financial assistance to two schools and a church in Haiti. An extensive financial forensic analysis by detectives going back to the day Chancy was hired in January 2016 revealed an aggregate funds misappropriation of $800,281, officials contend.
The investigation found Chancy, who worked from home, recorded deceiving entries in the books and ledgers for the three organizations to intentionally mislead Mona of her misappropriation of his revenue and funds. Chancy also manipulated bank statements she provided to Mona instead of the actual statements, officials allege. She “also altered the names of the payees to reflect payments to vendors or other employees to conceal she was the actual payee/beneficiary,” the release states.
Among the investigation’s other findings:
• From January 2016 to April 2019, Chancy wrote and deposited 109 unauthorized checks in her own name and made three unauthorized wire transfers from Three Palms Design Build’s bank accounts totaling $424,889.93 to her personal bank account.
• From January 2016 to April 2019, Chancy drew and deposited 30 unauthorized checks totaling $224,948.13 from the Clinton Investment Group bank account.
• From June 2018 to March 2019, Chancy drew and deposited eight unauthorized checks totaling $13,500 from the Cap Mona Angel Fund bank account.
• Chancy charged $43,780 for non-business-related expenses to the Three Palms American Express cards without permission or authority for her and her family’s benefit and interest.
• From June 2016 to April 2019, Chancy retained funds totaling $83,939.46 from Three Palms through her personal PayPal and Square accounts. She also retained three check payments for $16,425 intended for Three Palms.
Chancy was booked Nov. 16 into the Collier County jail and later released after posting $60,000 bond.