Howell woman charged for swindling employer out of $2.2 million

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FREEHOLD – The office manager of a Tinton Falls-based construction company has been criminally charged with swindling her employer out of more than $2.2 million over the course of seven years, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Monday.  

Donna Cook, 52, of Howell is charged with second-degree Theft, third-degree Forgery, and third-degree False Uttering.

An investigation initiated by the Tinton Falls Police Department that ultimately grew to also involve members of the MCPO Financial Crimes and Public Corruption Bureau was launched several months ago, and it soon determined that starting in 2015 and continuing into 2021, Cook allegedly stole company funds by writing herself unauthorized checks.

The investigation further determined that Cook had allegedly forged the signature of a company principal for the unauthorized checks, some of which were made payable to cash. The total yearly payouts ranged in value from a little more than $75,000 to nearly $475,000, and were used by Cook for personal expenses.    

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Cook was served with the charges via summons late last week and released on her own recognizance pending a first appearance to take place in Monmouth County Superior Court on Tuesday, February 15. The case is being prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Kristen Anastos. Attorney information for Cook was not immediately available. 

If convicted on the second-degree offense, Cook would face up to 10 years in state prison. Despite the aforementioned pending charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.