Federal authorities arrest Fil-Am community leader

by Ricky Rillera

NEW YORK – Former treasurer of the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (PIDCI), Violeta McGough, was arrested by U.S. Postal inspectors and criminal investigators with the U.S. Attorney’s Office on Oct. 5 at her home in Bergenfield, NJ. She was charged with allegedly defrauding her employer of approximately $900,000, authorities announced.

Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick said McGough was scheduled to appear that afternoon on the day after her arrest before U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven C. Mannion in Newark federal court.

According to the criminal complaint, over seven years – from 2008 through October 2015 – McGough allegedly made several fraudulent entries in the company’s books to steal funds that her employer collected as insurance premiums underwritten by a United Kingdom insurance syndicate.

Fitzpatrick said McGough accessed the company’s books “to divert part of those payments for her own personal use” disguising these funds as reimbursed premiums for cancelled policies.

McGough had the company write checks payable to an unidentified individual who supposedly worked for a premium financing company, but did not actually worked there, Fitzpatrick said.  These checks were then deposited to this unidentified individual’s bank account and the majority of the money was routed back to her account, he said.

McGough faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Her friends said she used to work with the Metcom Express Insurance Brokerage in Ridgefield, New Jersey. The community, mostly from her PIDCI group, was shocked upon learning of her arrest. Some thought that McGough’s arrest was related to alleged missing funds of PIDCI, which is the subject of an ongoing audit.

No one reached by the Philippine Daily Mirror would want to say on record what they felt about McGough’s arrest, if they were identified in this story. This reaction was different  from when everything was well with McGough. A sample of those compliments came from some PIDCI leaders and friends which were posted in their Facebook page:

“Just wanna have fun…meet Violeta Manarang-McGough, PIDCI Treasurer who tireless worked for many months managing Pidci’s treasury!!! Thanks Violet!,” wrote a popular figure in the community.

After attending a party at the Waterside Restaurant and Catering restaurant, another one said: “Congratulations to my dear friend Violeta Manarang-McGough for organizing such a classy party.”

“Thank you for your support to the community!”,  said another one after attending a fundraising event.

Someone even went to speculating that this news came at the “right time to distract people from the PIDCI elections” held last Saturday which was marred by catcalls and physical eviction of a board member from the voting area.

McGough served PIDCI for two terms in concurrent positions as a member of the board of directors and treasurer.  In early 2017, reportedly amidst a federal probe, she resigned citing health reasons.

She and husband Leo, have three children, one of whom is a cheerleader for the New York Jets.

PIDCI had used her home on several occasions: in 2013 at PIDCI Family’s 2nd Annual After PAFCOM Parade Party and the other, for its post-parade get-together pool/barbeque party in June 2014.  In 2016, McGough also hosted a Summer Graduation ‘White Party’ of Sarah McGough, her daughter, at the Waterside Restaurant and Catering. The place was described as having a spectacular view of Hudson River overlooking New York City skyline. Most of those who came were from PIDCI.  They were dressed in white clothing in fulfillment of the party’s theme.

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