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$163,000 Embezzled from Cosmopolitan Spent at Strip Club, Dinner Cruises, DA Says

The former general manager of the Cosmopolitan in Allentown has been charged with embezzling money from his employer, the Lehigh County District Attorney's office said. Arrests do not indicate a conviction.

 

The former general manager of the Cosmopolitan Restaurant in Allentown has been charged with embezzling $163,601 from the restaurant, the Lehigh County District Attorney's office announced Friday.

James Fortunato, 41, of 2340 Black Forest Drive, North Whitehall, allegedly stole the money from Cosmopolitan for his own use after being promoted to general manager in November 2010.

According to the district attorney's press release, Fortunato's alleged crime came to light in June 2012, when Myron Haydt, one of the restaurant’s owners, was reviewing the restaurant’s financial records and found a series of suspected unauthorized purchases by Fortunato.

The allegedly unauthorized purchases included expenses for dinner cruises, visits to a strip club, purchases for household items at a retail store, and ATM cash withdrawals in Pennsylvania and New York.

A certified public accountant conducted a review of the Cosmopolitan’s accounts during the period that Fortunato worked at the restaurant. The review found that Fortunato made a series of unauthorized ATM withdrawals, unauthorized credit card purchases and unauthorized check card purchases totaling $163,601 from the business accounts of the Cosmopolitan restaurant, according to the district attorney's office release.

According to an affidavit of probable cause filed by Lehigh County Chief Detective Michael Millan: Fortunato was hired as a manager of the Cosmopolitan Restaurant at 22 N. Sixth St., Allentown, in September 2010. He was promoted to general manager about a month later.

Fortunato’s responsibilities included overseeing the daily operations of the restaurant, handling employee payroll, paying bills to suppliers and collecting receipts for the business.

In addition, he was the sole signatory on the restaurant’s bank accounts and ATM/debit accounts. Fortunato also was given check-signing authority for the restaurant’s Wells Fargo Bank checking accounts, an Embassy Bank checking account, an ATM/debit card account for Wells Fargo Bank, a Visa card, an American Express Account, access to the cash receipts at the restaurant and responsibility to access any of the accounts only for the legitimate operation of the restaurant.

He was charged with unlawful taking or disposition and receiving stolen property on Friday, Jan. 25 and arraigned by District Judge David M. Howells Jr. at Lehigh County Central Booking.

The district attorney's office reports Fortunato was released on $50,000 unsecured bail. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Feb. 1 at the downtown Allentown office of District Judge Karen Devine.

As in every criminal case, the fact that an arrest has occurred or a complaint has been filed is merely an accusation; and the defendant, James Fortunato, is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Ann Wlazelek January 26, 2013 at 06:10 PM
If it's true, how awful. My understanding is the owner was trying to do something nice for Allentown, give back to his community, with this spectacular restaurant in center city. I hope the losses are not so great that the Cosmopolitan must close.
Nick January 26, 2013 at 08:12 PM
This guy also embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from two other employers! Finally someone charged him. Hopefully he will do jail time! Well deserved!
Mary January 26, 2013 at 11:28 PM
So sad that some people feel that they are entitled to other people's hard earned money! This attitude is pervasive in this society. Of course the other person didn't "earn" their money and you have every right to help yourself to it! Unbelievable!
Frediano January 27, 2013 at 04:50 PM
Wasn't this just direct redistribution of income, without the middle men?

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