Elderly Bergen Couple's Trusted Personal Assistant Stole $2.9M Of Their Money, Feds Charge

An elderly Bergen County couple had $2.9 million stolen by a now-former Ridgewood Public Library tech administrator whom they'd hired to be a part-time assistant at their home, federal authorities said following his arrest.

Charles Gallo

Charles Gallo

Photo Credit: Ridgewood Public Library (both)

Charles Gallo, 34, of Hawthorne, was responsible for managing the victims’ monthly bills, handling their banking and helping them with email and other issues involving technology after being hired in 2018, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said.

The couple trusted Gallo with their personal bank accounts, credit card accounts, online retail accounts and email, the U.S. attorney said on Friday, Jan. 12.

Gallo repaid the victims by stealing their money, Sellinger said.

A U.S. Postal Inspection Service complaint says that Gallo:

  • routinely used the victims’ ATM card to withdraw large amounts of money;
  • opened a line of credit with their money;
  • cashed checks made payable to himself drawn on the victims’ bank accounts, and
  • used the victims’ credit cards to buy computer equipment, gaming systems and collectible items from online retailers.

Postal inspectors took the lead in the case because Gallo allegedly had his purchases shipped via the U.S. mail to his home in Hawthorne and to what's described in court papers as a public library in Bergen County where he'd worked.

As recently as last year, Gallo was identified in local media reports and newsletters as the "technology administrator" at the Ridgewood Public Library. His name, number and email address were removed from the library's website sometime between Tuesday, Jan. 9 and Friday, a cached version of the page shows.

Library Director Lorri Steinbacher and Ridgewood Village Manager Keith Kazmark issued a joint statement following publication of this story on Saturday, Jan. 13:

The Ridgewood Public Library and the Village of Ridgewood have cooperated with all aspects of the US Attorney’s investigation in this matter. We will continue to provide any assistance or information that is requested by investigators. Due to the sensitive nature of this situation and also it being a pending personnel matter, we have no further comment.”

The thievery accelerated in late 2022, according to the federal complaint.

Gallo withdrew $56,062 over the course of four days in November 2022 and another $24,525 on Nov. 12, the complaint filed by U.S. Postal Inspector Gregory T. Botti in U.S. District Court in Newark alleges.

Another $26,908 was removed between Dec. 14 and 23, plus $33,722 between Feb. 11 and Valentine's Day, Botti wrote.

Gallo was freed on $100,000 unsecured bond following a brief hearing before a federal magistrate judge in Newark on Thursday, Jan. 11. Representing the government is Assistant U.S. Attorney Shontae D. Gray of Sellinger's Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.

Sellinger credited postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Newark, special agents of his office and Hawthorne police with the investigation leading to Gallos' arrest. He also thanked Ridgewood police for their assistance.

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