The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has announced the arrest and indictment of John Runowicz, a University administrator for an alleged ongoing theft in the neighborhood of $400,000. According to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, Mr. Runowicz was indicted by a Grand Jury for the crimes of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony and six counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, a class E felony. If convicted, Mr. Runowicz faces up to 5 to 15 years and up to 1?? to 4 years in state prison on the respective charges.
As administrator for the University’s chemistry department, Mr. Runowicz oversaw and managed the budget and handled the financial matters for that department. In this capacity, prosecutors alleged that Mr. Runowicz “caused thousands of fraudulent requests for petty cash reimbursement to be submitted to the university Bursar’s Office. [Mr.] Runowicz scavenged discarded cash register receipts from a local liquor store, attached them to reimbursement request forms, and falsely claimed that the expenses were for chemistry department supply purchases and other functions. None of those receipts reflected legitimate business expenses. Carrying on his scheme for over five years, [Mr.] Runowicz fraudulently submitted over 13,000 receipts from the liquor store and stole $409,000.
It appears from the above press release that the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has a significant portion 13,000 receipts that they allege are false (although, the indictment only reflects six charges of Falsifying Business Records). What is noteworthy is that for a conviction of the felony “version” of Falsifying Business Records, the prosecution does not need to necessarily prove that a defendant made a false entry in the business records of an enterprise, here NYU, but that he or she caused a false entry to be made. To prove the Grand Larceny charge, the more serious offense, prosecutors must establish that he took property without permission, here the money, in excess of $50,000.
Without knowing all the facts, certain questions that may arise include whether or not Mr. Runowicz made the initial request for the reimbursements. Are there records reflecting what, if anything, Mr. Runowicz did with the monies after he received it? Moreover, did the District Attorney’s Office subpoena Mr. Runowic’s bank records and do they reflect significant balance increases or, in the alternative, a build up of funds and limited withdrawals? The above questions are relatively superficial, but ones that are at least a starting point for Mr. Runowicz, or any individual accused of such a crime, to address with his attorney as they implement their defense.
Saland Law PC is white collar criminal defense firm founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors. Saland Law PC represents clients throughout the New York City region.