🔴 NJ man admits stealing over $1.5M from work

🔴 Man was CFO at national law firm

🔴 Prison expected for theft, tax evasion

A former, longtime law firm executive has admitted to stealing more than $1.5 million from his Morristown-based employer in fake bonuses and credit card charges for travel with his wife and family.

John Dunlea, former chief financial officer of McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, also pleaded guilty in Morris County Superior Court to tax evasion of more than $22,000 on the credit card expenses.

When sentenced on June 14, the state would recommend a five-year prison term for the 61-year-old Westfield resident.

Prosecutors would also seek full restitution be paid to the law firm and the state.

The charges were connected to transactions made between 2017 and 2022, as well as the corresponding tax years.

A civil lawsuit filed against Dunlea and his wife includes allegations that even more was embezzled over a total of at least 12 years.

Allegations in civil suit against Dunlea, Alexander (Google Maps)
Allegations in civil suit against Dunlea, Alexander (Google Maps)

Lavish vacations charged to work, civil suit says

Dunlea’s wife, Nicole Alexander, also worked at McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, until she was fired last year.

While she was never criminally charged, she has been part of the firm’s civil lawsuit filed in June 2023 against both spouses.

Dunlea became the firm’s CFO in 2007, while Alexander was the firm’s Director of Legal Recruiting, starting in 2005.

The couple began dating around 2011 and were married in 2015.

The Dunleas have been accused of using their firm-issued American Express cards to pay for at least 60 vacations at luxury hotels, often flying first class.

(Ivy Alexander via Facebook)
(Ivy Alexander via Facebook)

Among his work responsibilities, Dunlea was the person who entered bonuses to be paid and oversaw the Amex card statements of the firm’s staff.

Among posh destinations they frequented — the luxury Hotel Coronado in San Diego, California, more than a dozen times, racking up a total of $89,000 in expenses at that single location, alone.

While the law firm has offices in nine states, California is not among them.

The firm’s civil suit lists other luxury, five-star hotels charged to the couple’s firm Amex accounts for personal travel:

📍 Savoy Hotel in London

📍 Ritz and Hotel George V in Paris

📍 Punta Cana and Caneel Bay resorts

📍 Various resorts in Bermuda

The couple also used firm accounts to fund “a lavish 60th birthday party” for Dunlea in his birth country of Ireland, according to the civil suit.

More account charges were spent domestically, at the Boston Harbor Hotel, the Tampa Waterfront Resort, and Disney World in Orlando, with Dunlea’s children.

Since 2016, the couple has lived in a more than $1 million, four-bedroom home in Westfield.

The firm has alleged that some embezzled funds were used to purchase the property.

A review of Dunlea’s and Alexander’s Amex business-card statements has shown “that they both engaged in widespread fraud and theft,” according to the civil suit, racking up more than $1.6 million in no less than 60 luxury vacations and trips.

More than a dozen trips charged to their Amex accounts were to the luxury Hotel Coronado in San Diego — where the couple spent about $89,000, alone.

Dunlea and Alexander also used their firm business credit cards to pay for travel for family members, including Dunlea’s mother, brother, children and ex-wife, and Alexander’s brother and sister-in-law.

Dunlea's wife says 'completely unaware' of theft

Alexander filed her own lawsuit against the firm, the same day in June 2023, in which she said she was “completely unaware” of any misappropriated funds.

She countered that she did not know how much alimony Dunlea had been paying his former spouse, or that he was still paying his ex-wife’s mortgage — and that the couple uses their only joint bank account for mortgage payments.

The law firm’s suit against the couple also accuses Alexander of using company time and resources to work on her high-end fashion accessory brand, Ivy Alexander.

Social media accounts for that side-business have shown the couple globe-trotting.

Among images posted by Alexander was a New Year’s Eve selfie in Paris, with the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop, just months before Dunlea was arrested and the spouses were sued.

The civil suit has also alleged that the couple kept valuable Amex “points” that were accrued on their work accounts through about $500,000 in firm expenses, for staff retreats and cell phone bills.

While the policy was to pool those points, the firm said that Dunlea did not.

“The defendant in this case has admitted giving himself a staggering, unauthorized, and illegal seven-figure pay raise, and treating himself and his family, at his employer's expense, to travel, hotels, and dining out, without his employer's consent,” state Attorney General Matthew Platkin said in a written release on Wednesday.

“Dunlea has now admitted in court to tax evasion and to stealing more than $1.5 million from a national law firm, where he served as a trusted, high-level executive for several years,” Legal Chief Pablo Quiñones of the Office of Securities Fraud and Financial Crimes Prosecutions said in the same release.

Quiñones continued, “His guilty plea should send a strong message to white-collar fraudsters that this Office will diligently investigate and prosecute substantial financial fraud and those who break the law will be held to account for their crimes.”

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