TRENTON - Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that a former employee of Apple, Inc., was sentenced to state prison today for embezzling large sums of money from the company by 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, 42, of Livingston, N.J., a former administrative assistant for Apple, was sentenced to three years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Mark S. Ali in Essex County. Branca pleaded guilty on Jan. 22 to second-degree theft by deception. She paid $95,000 in restitution to the company prior to sentencing.
Deputy Attorney General Derek Miller prosecuted Branca and handled the sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice. Branca was indicted as a result of an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau.
As an administrator for Apple, Branca worked mostly from her home 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 parking with a company-issued American Express credit card in her name. The investigation revealed that Branca submitted dozens of duplicate requests for reimbursement of business expenses charged on the card, resulting in a total of roughly $243,000 in excess reimbursements. Apple made the duplicate payments to Branca’s Amex account, and she used the resulting credit balances to shop for clothes, electronics and furniture.
Between 2013 and 2016, Branca 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. 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.
“This sentence sends a strong deterrent message to white collar criminals like Branca who think they can defy the maxim that crime doesn’t pay,” said Attorney General Grewal. “In addition to paying major restitution to Apple, Branca is now headed to prison for her crime.”
“Branca went on a lavish shopping spree at the expense of her employer, but ultimately she bought herself a state prison term,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Our financial crimes bureau will continue to uncover these fraud schemes and bring those responsible to justice.”
Deputy Attorney General Miller prosecuted the case for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Mark Kurzawa and former Bureau Chief Michael Monahan. The case was investigated by Sgt. James Scott, Detective James Gallo and Analyst Chrissy Garthwaite-Ratliff. Attorney General Grewal thanked Apple, Inc., for its cooperation in the investigation.
Attorney General Grewal and Director Allende 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: Zahid N. Quraishi, Esq., Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti LLP, Morristown, N.J.
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