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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 8, 2010

Accused embezzler caught in New York

By Jim Dooley
Advertiser Staff Writer

New York authorities Thursday arrested a former Honolulu man on charges of embezzling some $300,000 from a prominent Hawai'i law firm.

Nigel Salmingo, 31, was secretly indicted last month on 37 charges related to the theft of money from the Winer Meheula & Devens law firm. The charges include theft, forgery and money laundering.

Salmingo was office manager for the firm from 2007 to early 2009.

"We terminated his employment in March 2009 and thereafter discovered that he had stolen company funds," William Meheula, a partner in the firm, said yesterday.

"Fortunately, he did not steal any client trust funds, and insurance covered much of the loss," Meheula said.

Honolulu deputy prosecutor Christopher Van Marter said Salmingo spent "an enormous amount of money on social events, at clubs and bars" and lived "a lifestyle of someone who is well-off."

The law firm detected bookkeeping problems in March 2009 when Salmingo was on vacation, and the firm brought in a former office manager to examine financial records, Van Marter said.

Within a month, the firm had referred its findings to Honolulu police for criminal investigation.

Van Marter said Salmingo forged checks, opened unauthorized credit card accounts and stole at least $300,000.

Shortly after Salmingo was confronted with evidence of the theft, he sold a BMW automobile he had purchased here with allegedly stolen money and fled to the Mainland, living first in New Jersey and later in New York, Van Marter said.

State and federal authorities arrested him at 220 E. 52nd St. in Manhattan on Thursday.

He is being held in lieu of $500,000 bail and will be extradited to Honolulu, Van Marter said.

Van Marter said U.S. postal authorities kept track of Salmingo's whereabouts while the case was being investigated here.