The price of the tasting menu at Masa may be a little inflated, it turns out, because an unscrupulous employee has allegedly been funneling cash out of the business: The Manhattan D.A.'s office announced this afternoon that it has indicted the restaurant's former bookkeeper for stealing approximately $100,000 between January 1, 2011, and February 1 of last year.
Court documents allege that within a few months after he was hired, the 41-year-old Rafael Thomas soon became the only employee to handle Masa's day-to-day operations. He was entrusted with payroll, the restaurant's accounts, and was even responsible for "depositing funds from all cash sales." (Note: Who pays cash at Masa?)
Eventually, a manager at the restaurant noticed that Thomas was radically manipulating his base salary — sometimes tripling it, sometimes adding on 80 hours of vacation pay to his standard pay. The documents allege Thomas skimmed from cash sales, cashed corporate checks and pocketed the money, and even dipped into Masa's emergency funds. Thomas pocketed $96,000 in all and attempted to cover his tracks by falsifying expenses, but to no avail.
The indictment was announced by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., and the case will be prosecuted in court by Assistant District Attorney José A. Fanjul.
Updated: Read the court papers below.