A Department of Corrections (DOC) captain was arrested and charged with stealing $40,000 in an alleged investment agreement.
43-year-old Steve Francois, of Jamaica, Queens, was arrested on April 4 and charged with grand larceny. He was arraigned before the Queens Criminal Court on April 24 and released on his own recognizance and scheduled to return to court on June 21, 2022.
The city’s Department of Investigation (DOI) kicked off the investigation after the victim reported the incident to DOC, which then alerted DOI. The trial is being prosecuted by the Queens District Attorney’s office.
“As alleged in the complaint, this defendant promised to profitably invest the victim’s $40,000 but stole the funds instead, enriching himself at the victim’s expense and breaking the law,” DOI Commissioner Jocelyn E. Strauber said. “This defendant is a high-ranking member of DOC’s supervisory staff whose integrity must be a top priority. I thank the Queens District Attorney’s office and the City Department of Correction for their partnership on this investigation.”
According to the criminal complaint and the investigation by DOI, the victim allegedly agreed to invest $40,000 with Francois with a return of $15,000 in a written contract, with the $55,000 being due to the victim in October 2021. The two allegedly met up on Sept. 3, 2021 outside of Francois’s Queens home, where the victim provided Francois with a $40,000 cashier’s check.
After giving the victim conflicting responses to the victim’s inquiries about the status of her money, on Dec. 21, 2021, Francois allegedly sent her a funeral announcement and pictures of a man in a coffin, telling the victim that the man they were doing business with was deceased and the victim’s money would not be returned.
DOI investigators found that according to bank records, Francois allegedly deposited the $40,000 cashier’s check into his account on Sept. 4, 2021 and that between Sept. 8 and Sept. 10, 2021, he withdrew a total of $39,937.43 from the same account. Francois did not have permission or authority to take, use, possess or remove the $40,000 that was provided to him by the victim by false pretenses.
During the time of the incident, Francois was on sick leave from DOC. Francois has been employed by DOC since May 2013 and receives an annual base salary of $96,208. He has been suspended since his arrest on April 4. If convicted, Francois faces up to seven years in prison.
“Financial crimes can be devastating for victims and could lead to economic ruin,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said. “I want to thank the City Department of Investigation and all those involved in bringing this case to my Office. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to right the wrongs of all who have been victimized.”
“Integrity is the most important quality that a law enforcement official must have, and when they betray someone’s trust, they fail that person and the agency they represent,” DOC Commissioner Louis A. Molina said. “We will not tolerate this type of alleged disgraceful behavior and if this individual is found guilty, they will be disciplined and face termination. I would like to thank the Department of Investigation and the Queens District Attorney’s office for their support.”