Juan Valdez coffee ex-COO charged in New York with $900,000 theft

Products are displayed at a Juan Valdez store in Bogota
Products are displayed at a Juan Valdez store in Bogota, Colombia June 5, 2019. Picture taken June 5, 2019. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez

NEW YORK, May 5 (Reuters) - A former top executive at the North American operator of Juan Valdez coffee has been indicted for stealing more than $900,000 from the company to inflate her salary, take expensive vacations and buy luxury goods on Amazon.com, Manhattan's district attorney said on Thursday.

Rosita Joseph, 51, the former chief operating officer of NFCGC Investments Inc, allegedly made more than $580,000 in unauthorized payroll deposits from January 2013 to May 2018, and conducted more than $118,000 of unauthorized wire transfers.

NFCGC manages U.S. retail sales of Juan Valdez coffee and several Juan Valdez cafes.

The Brooklyn, New York, resident was also accused of billing more than $116,000 to an American Express corporate card for trips for herself and others, including to Orlando, Florida, the Bahamas, Barbados and the Cayman Islands.

Joseph allegedly also spent more than $86,000 on Amazon on gold and diamond jewelry, as well as Gucci accessories.

Prosecutors said Joseph was fired in May 2018 after rebuffing internal requests to document her spending.

"We will not allow unscrupulous employees to use their companies as a personal piggy bank," Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement.

Joseph was charged with one count of grand larceny in the second degree, which carries a maximum 15-year prison term. She was granted supervised release and must surrender her passport.

Liam Malanaphy, a lawyer for Joseph, declined to comment.

NFCGC is a unit of Procafecol SA, which was created by the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation. The nonprofit represents the interests of coffee growers and promotes Colombian coffee.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Sandra Maler

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