Connecticut Woman Admits To Engaging In Conspiracy To Defraud Former Employers

NEWARK, N.J. – A Connecticut woman today admitted to engaging in a conspiracy to divert over $546,000 in customer payments owed to her former employers for personal use, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.

Melissa Corso, 50, of Groton, Connecticut, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti to an information charging her with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From February 2013 through September 2018, Corso conspired and agreed with a former co-worker, Joseph Spaccavento, to divert customer payments owed to their former employers, the Victim Company and the Predecessor Victim Company (collectively, the “Victim Companies”), for their own personal use and benefit. Corso instructed certain customers of the Victim Companies to submit their payments to a PayPal account, registered in Spaccavento’s name and associated with Corso’s work email address, over which Corso exercised control (the “Scheme Account”). In reality, the Scheme Account was not authorized by the Victim Companies to receive these payments.

Corso and Spaccavento caused withdrawals to be made from the Scheme Account and diverted the funds to the personal PayPal accounts of Corso, Spaccavento, and others. Corso and Spaccavento also caused transfers of funds to be made from the Scheme Account to various commercial retailers to pay for personal expenses. Purchases from these commercial retailers were shipped to the home and work addresses of Corso, Spaccavento, and others. By fraudulently diverting funds for their personal gain, Corso caused the Victim Companies losses of approximately $516,857 over the course of the conspiracy. In addition, Corso continued to divert the funds of the Victim Company after Spaccavento left the Victim Company in or about September 2018, causing additional losses to the Victim Company in the amount of approximately $29,735.

Corso was previously arrested on February 5, 2021 and charged by criminal complaint with two counts of wire fraud. Spaccavento previously pleaded guilty to a one-count Information charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud on May 3, 2021 and is currently awaiting sentencing.

The conspiracy to commit wire fraud count is punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross amount of gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greater. Sentencing is scheduled for December 8, 2021.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer S. Kozar of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.

Defense counsel: John Yauch, Esq., Newark, New Jersey

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