James Fortunato, a North Whitehall resident and former general manager of the Cosmopolitan Restaurant, has been charged with stealing $163,601 from the restaurant, the Lehigh County District Attorney's office announced Friday.
Fortunato, 41, of 2340 Black Forest Dr., allegedly stole the money from Cosmopolitan for his own personal 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 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. on Feb. 1, at the 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.