A former project accountant at Tishman Construction Corp. pleaded guilty to stealing $2.8 million from the company in a phony invoicing scheme involving portable toilets, for which he sometimes signed checks “Mr. John.”
John Hoeffner pleaded guilty to counts of grand larceny in the first degree and grand larceny in the second degree, and will receive 7 to 14 years in prison, while paying restitution of roughly $1.4 million. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 17.
Hoeffner was charged last month with stealing from Tishman through a phony invoicing scheme connected with a project at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. He could have served up to 25 years in prison if convicted at a trial, according Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau.
According to the prosecutor, Hoeffner had forged vendor invoices and altered checks while assigned by Tishman to the Einstein College project between March 2006 and May 2008. As project accountant, Hoeffner was responsible for receiving invoices for payment from vendors and subcontractors, preparing checks for signature by senior Tishman managers, and distributing the checks to the payees.
He was accused of incorporating a phony company to carry out his scheme, in which he allegedly altered and deposited a total of 99 checks. In the case of eight altered checks, he made them out to a portable-toilet vendor named “Mr. John.” Hoeffner allegedly added his own surname to the checks to facilitate theft of the funds. The 107 checks altered and deposited totaled more than $2.8 million.
The theft was discovered by a Tishman auditor during a review of the company’s various projects. The auditor noticed a suspicious check, which prompted Tishman to conduct a full-scale review of all invoices and checks from the entire Albert Einstein College project.
According to an earlier report in the New York Daily News, Hoeffner sent a quarter of a million ill-gotten dollars to his girlfriend in Colombia, and made a $105,000 down payment on a home in Queens.