A former employee of a New Jersey Nissan dealership was charged this week in a $1.3 million money laundering and theft case.
Detectives arrested Martin D’Amato, 37, who previously headed digital advertising for Pine Belt Nissan in Toms River.
Prosecutors say charges to the dealership for advertising contracts to shell companies were at the heart of the scheme. D'Amato was authorized to hire freelance ad and marketing firms to promote Pine Belt Nissan, the prosecutor's office said. The dealership discovered the scheme in an internal review that showed its credit card expenses exceeded budgeted amounts, according to an Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office news release.
An “elaborate shell company scheme” was used to misappropriate more than $1.3 million from the dealership, the release indicates.
The dealership credit card was charged for services never rendered, and the prosecutor’s office said D’Amato's connection with the shell companies was concealed via an online payment processing service used to bill the corporate credit account. The service then transferred the money to accounts he controlled, the news release said.