Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. announced today the guilty plea of LESLIE SCHARF, 52, a licensed New York attorney, for embezzling nearly $6 million from his employer, Ellison Systems, Inc., operating as Shoplet, an online office supplies retailer. The defendant pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court to one count of Grand Larceny in the First Degree. The defendant is scheduled to be sentenced on October 8, 2020, to 3-to-9 years in prison and restitution in the amount of $757,645.61, in addition to SCHARF’s interest in his family home, representing the remaining funds and assets from his theft, totaling between $1.4-$1.5 million.
“For years, Leslie Scharf exploited his position as general counsel and the exclusive manager of his employer’s PayPal accounts to funnel nearly $6 million into his personal PayPal accounts. Although the massive amount stolen sets this case apart from recent prosecutions of unscrupulous attorneys, the pattern is familiar – the defendant moved the stolen fortune into multiple bank accounts and used it to fund a life of luxury. But now, thanks to my office’s Major Economic Crimes Bureau, he’s being held accountable for this egregious fraud.”
As admitted in the defendant’s guilty plea, between approximately May 2013 and June 2019, SCHARF was employed as the general counsel and senior vice president of an online office supplies retailer, Ellison Systems, Inc., doing business as Shoplet. One of his responsibilities in this role was to serve as the exclusive manager of Shoplet’s PayPal accounts. During this time period, SCHARF abused his position as a legal advisor when he embezzled almost $6 million from Shoplet by diverting the money from his employer’s PayPal accounts into his own personal PayPal accounts. From there, SCHARF transferred the stolen funds into various bank accounts in his name. SCHARF spent the money he had embezzled from Shoplet on extravagant personal expenses, such as travel, high-end designer shopping, and purchases of a BMW and a Porsche.
Assistant D.A.s Natallia Krauchuk and Daniel J. Koevary handled the prosecution of this case, under the supervision of Assistant D.A. Steve Pilnyak, Deputy Chief of the Major Economic Crimes Bureau; Assistant D.A. Julieta V. Lozano, Chief of the Major Economic Crimes Bureau; and Executive Assistant D.A. Christopher Conroy, Chief of the Investigation Division. Financial Investigator Diana Cincotta of the Forensic Accounting and Financial Investigations (“FAFI”) Bureau provided assistance, under the supervision of Irene Serrapica, Deputy Bureau Chief of FAFI, and Robert Demarest, Bureau Chief of FAFI. Paralegal Tallulah Wick; Deputy Inspector Joseph Del Duca; and NYPD Detectives Barbara Harper and Delano Grant, and Sergeant Anthony Gonzalez also provided assistance.