A former project accountant at Tishman Construction has been indicted for stealing $2.8 million from the company in a phony invoicing scheme.
John Hoeffner, 47, was charged with grand larceny, criminal possession of a forged instrument and falsifying business records. Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau's office accused Hoeffner of forging vendor invoices and altering vendor checks while he was assigned to a Tishman construction project at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, between March 31, 2006, and May 13, 2008.
As project accountant, Hoeffner was responsible for receiving invoices from vendors and subcontractors, preparing checks for signature by senior Tishman managers and distributing the checks to the payees. A. Splescia, a Long Island-based surveying company, was a legitimate vendor that was already providing work and services on the Albert Einstein College project. Hoeffner incorporated a phony company with a similar name, "A.J. Splescian Inc."
According to the D.A.'s office, Hoeffner systematically faked invoices from A. Splescia and submitted them to Tishman with payment checks to be signed. Once the checks were issued, he altered them, making them payable to his company, and deposited them into accounts that he controlled. Hoeffner allegedly deposited a total of 99 fake checks. In addition, he altered eight checks issued to a portable toilet vendor, "Mr. John," adding his own surname "Hoeffner" to the checks so he could deposit them and steal the money. The 107 checks totaled $2,801,578.75.
A Tishman auditor discovered the embezzlement during a review of the company's various projects. The auditor noticed a suspicious check for "A. J. Splescian Inc.," which prompted Tishman to conduct a full-scale review of all invoices and checks from the entire Albert Einstein College project. Hoeffner faces up to 25 years in jail if he is convicted.
Hoeffner pleaded not guilty during his arraignment on Wednesday. His lawyer told Judge Rena K. Uviller that Hoeffner would hand over a plastic box containing $530,000 in cash that his mother had been holding, according to The New York Times. On Jan. 30, he was sentenced to community service and probation and ordered to pay restitution after he was convicted of carrying out a $400,000 embezzlement scheme at another construction company, Bovis Lend Lease.
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