TRENTON - Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that a former employee of Apple, Inc., has been indicted by a state grand jury on a charge that she embezzled approximately $243,000 from the company, double-billing the company for reimbursement of business expenses on her company credit card and then using the resulting credit on the card to buy luxury items for herself.
Toni Ann Branca, 41, of Livingston, N.J., a former administrative assistant for Apple, was indicted yesterday on a charge of second-degree theft by deception. She was charged as a result of an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau.
As an administrative assistant for Apple, Branca worked mostly from her home in Livingston and was responsible for arranging employee training, travel and parking for her region. She was authorized to pay for company expenses such as conference rooms and employee parking with a company-issued American Express credit card in her name. It is alleged that Branca submitted dozens of duplicate requests for reimbursement of business expenses charged on her company-issued Amex card.
Apple made the duplicate payments to Branca’s Amex account, and Branca allegedly used the resulting credit balances to shop for clothes, electronics and furniture. Between 2013 and 2016, Branca allegedly used the Amex card for more than $110,000 in personal retail spending, including purchases at Victoria’s Secret, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Home Goods. Branca allegedly stole a total of approximately $243,000, including $18,542 that she received in the form of two checks for expenses she said she paid personally, and $10,000 that was applied to the Amex card as a merchant credit which she failed to disclose to the company. Apple initiated its investigation of Branca after it discovered numerous Victoria’s Secret charges on her company-issued Amex card. After conducting an internal investigation, Apple referred the case to the Division of Criminal Justice.
“White collar crime doesn’t just harm businesses. Ultimately, it has a detrimental impact on employees, consumers and commerce in general, and we all end up paying for it,” said Attorney General Porrino. “By aggressively prosecuting offenders like this defendant, we send a strong message to others who might consider stealing from their employers.”
“The lawyers and detectives in our financial crimes bureau are experts at tracking the money and building strong cases against those who engage in schemes of the type Branca allegedly devised,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “White collar criminals often believe they have found the perfect scam, but we ensure that they pay for their crimes.”
Deputy Attorney General Derek Miller presented the case to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Mark Kurzawa and Bureau Chief Michael Monahan. The case was investigated by Sgt. James Scott, Detective James Gallo and Analyst Chrissy Garthwaite-Ratliff. Attorney General Porrino thanked Apple, Inc., for its cooperation in the investigation.
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000. The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson, who assigned the case to Essex County, where Branca will be ordered to appear in court at a later date for arraignment.
Attorney General Porrino and Director Honig noted that the Division of Criminal Justice has established a toll-free Corruption Tipline 1-866-TIPS-4CJ for the public to confidentially report corruption, financial crime and other illegal activities. The public also can log on to the Division’s web page at www.njdcj.org to report suspected wrongdoing confidentially.
Defense Attorney for Branca: Undetermined
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