Some college ethics professors joke that you shouldn’t do anything that you wouldn’t want your mother to read about in the newspaper. One former Nissan dealership employee in New Jersey is about to have a seriously awkward conversation with his mother after he was arrested on charges of stealing $1.3 million from Pine Belt Nissan in Toms River.
Detectives from the Ocean County, New Jersey’s Economic Crim Squad picked up 37-year-old Martin D’Amato on Monday, according to NJ.com. During a budget audit, the dealership discovered his crimes and contacted prosecutors in October last year. They say D’Amato falsified invoices to charge the Nissan dealer for fake advertising contracts.
D’Amato took advantage of online payment processors to avoid detection when billing the dealership, but he didn’t cover his steps well enough. After charging the store, D’Amato sent the money to accounts linked to shell companies he created and used the funds for personal expenses.
As you might suspect, a million-dollar theft does not come with a slap on the wrist. Prosecutors charged D’Amato with money laundering and theft, which can carry hefty sentences in New Jersey. The state uses a tiered system to determine penalties for convicted money launderers, with the lightest sentence associated with crimes of $75,000 or less. People convicted for that amount can see a sentence of three to five years. Laundering $75,000-$499,000 carries a possible sentence of five to ten years.
D’Amato, however, could be looking at much more serious time in jail. The penalty for laundering $500,000 or more is ten years in prison and a mandatory period of parole ineligibility. If convicted, D’Amato will have to serve at least one-third of his sentence before a judge can consider parole.