DA Vance: Woman Indicted for Stealing More Than $1.1 Million From Her 94-Year-Old Employer to Finance Dessert Shop

October 7, 2016

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the indictment of SELVAGGIA PIZZETTI, 43, for stealing approximately $1.16 million from her elderly former employer in order to finance her gelato and pastry business. The defendant is charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with Grand Larceny in the First Degree and Criminal Tax Fraud in the Second and Third Degree. [1]

“This defendant is accused of stealing more than a million dollars from her 94-year-old employer to bankroll a pie-in-the-sky business venture,” said District Attorney Vance. “As alleged in the indictment, over the course of several years, Selvaggia Pizzetti routinely transferred large amounts of money from the victim’s account into her personal and business accounts – in order to finance a gelato and pastry shop which ultimately failed. Unfortunately, financial exploitation of this nature is all too common. I thank the victim in this case for reporting this theft to my Office, and encourage anyone who believes they have been the victim of this type of fraud to call our Financial Frauds Hotline at 212-335-8900.”  

According to court documents and statements made on the record in court, PIZZETTI was employed as an assistant to a 94-year-old man at his various businesses, which included an espresso machine sales and service company located on West 44th Street, and several residential and commercial properties in Manhattan. In this role, PIZZETTI was responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the various businesses, including paying bills and accepting payments. In June 2013, PIZZETTI stole $60,000 from the 94-year-old man’s personal bank account through an unauthorized wire transfer to her own account. 

In November 2013, PIZZETTI filed papers to incorporate Maestri Artigiani d/b/a “Crave. It,” a retail gelato and pastry shop, which later opened in Chelsea. Between April 2014 and February 2016, the defendant made 22 unauthorized wire transfers from the victim’s personal and business bank accounts to an account associated with Crave. It. Following each transfer, PIZZETTI spent the stolen funds almost immediately on expenses related to her business, including rent, design, construction and employee salaries. 

Earlier this year, the victim discovered discrepancies in the books and terminated PIZZETTI. Subsequently, other irregularities were discovered, and the victim reported the theft to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

In addition to the theft, PIZZETTI is accused of failing to file New York State income tax returns for the tax years 2014 and 2015.  

Assistant District Attorney Allen J. Vickey is handling the prosecution of the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Gloria Garica, Deputy Bureau Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau; Archana Rao, Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau; and Executive Assistant District Attorney Michael Sachs, Chief of the Investigation Division. Investigative Analyst Lauren Gunther, Paralegal Anna Vanyman, Detective Simon Chan of the Detective Squad of the New York City Police Department at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, Intern Wesley Stafford, Financial Investigator Diana Cincotta of the Forensic Accounting and Financial Investigations (“FAFI”) Bureau, under the supervision of Irene Serrapica, Deputy Bureau Chief of FAFI, and Robert Demarest, Bureau Chief of FAFI assisted with the investigation. 

District Attorney Vance thanked the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, specifically Associate Attorney Michelle Demeri, Tax Auditor II Hui Qing Cheu, and Tax Auditor III Nicholas Capkovic. 

[1] The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. All factual recitations are derived from documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court.

Defendant Information:

Brooklyn, NY

•    Grand Larceny in the First Degree, a class B felony, one count
•    Criminal Tax Fraud in the Second Degree, a class C felony, one count
•    Criminal Tax Fraud in the Third Degree, a class D felony, one count