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How did $2M get embezzled from Rochester business by Canandaigua worker?

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

A 50-year-old woman from Canandaigua has been charged with embezzling over $2 million from R.E.S. Exhibit Services, a company where she previously managed payroll for nearly 100 employees. Sarah Fantauzzi worked as the executive vice president of human resources at the company for almost seven years before resigning in June 2019.

R.E.S.’s chief legal officer, John Demarco, stated that the company uncovered the alleged embezzlement just before the pandemic, which severely impacted their finances and forced them to let go of two-thirds of their workforce. Court documents indicate that Fantauzzi began working for a competitor in Massachusetts following her departure from R.E.S.

A forensic audit initiated in December 2019 discovered payment discrepancies, prompting R.E.S. to file a civil lawsuit against Fantauzzi in 2020. However, the company eventually abandoned the lawsuit due to a lack of recoverable assets.

According to the forensic audit, Fantauzzi allegedly started claiming unapproved travel expenses in November 2012 and began doubling her paychecks in January 2013. Fantauzzi denies all allegations of embezzlement and claims that senior management was aware of and authorized her payments as part of a compensation system known as “Jimmy Dollars.”

Fantauzzi’s deposition also mentions that 14 other employees received off-the-books compensation, including those without proper documentation or social security numbers.

Her case is scheduled to return to court on April 7.