Two employees of the architecture firm co-founded by Pritzker Prize winner I.M. Pei face charges that they stole $4 million from the company to pay off their own credit card bills.
Vincent Longo, 63, and Theresa Hawkins-Pole, 65, respectively stole $2.1 million and $1.9 million while working in the finance department at Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, according to an indictment handed down in state Supreme Court on Friday. The two allegedly misappropriated company funds from May 1, 2001, to February 2018, by using blank checks signed by a senior partner at the firm to pay off their own American Express credit cards.
Longo and Hawkins-Pole couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
“Vincent Longo and Theresa Hawkins were terminated from our firm several months ago, and we are working with the authorities to ensure that they are held accountable for their actions,” a spokesperson for the firm said in a statement. “Importantly, outside legal and accounting experts conducted a thorough examination of the firm’s books and records, and confirmed that clients, consultants, and other employees were not affected.”
The company’s funds were used to pay for airline tickets, clothing, tickets to sporting events and other personal expenses, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Longo, who worked as the firm’s director of finance, also told authorities that he was in debt due to his daughter’s health issues.
In a statement provided to the court, Hawkins-Pole indicated that she felt “bullied” by Longo to present her personal bills as company expenses. She said she felt “intimidated,” since Longo was her boss. Hawkins-Pole worked as the firm’s accounts payable clerk.
“Insider theft affects companies and organizations across all industries,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance in a statement. “In this case, the defendants are charged with taking insider theft to new heights.”
The pair face two counts of grand larceny and falsifying business records. Their next court date is slated for May 30.
Pei co-founded the firm in 1955 with Henry Cobb and Eason Leonard. He retired in 1990.