Adrian Rodriguez had been working in Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson's duplicating department for eight years when, in October 2010, he began ordering more copy machine toner than the law firm needed and pilfering the extra cartridges. Over the next two years, he stole more than $376,000 worth of toner and resold it for between $10 and $15 a box.
Eventually, the scheme unraveled, and, as a result, Rodriguez is now incarcerated in Ulster Correctional Facility in upstate New York.
Rodriguez, 39, admitted to the long-running larceny in April, three months after being indicted by the Manhattan district attorney's office. In unveiling their case against Rodriguez, prosecutors touted it as a cautionary tale for other New York businesses. District Attorney Cyrus Vance specifically underscored the seriousness of workplace theft. “It may surprise many New Yorkers to learn that there is a black market for office supplies," Vance said in a statement. “This defendant didn’t just take a box of Post-it Notes out of the office supply closet—he is charged with making an illegal business out of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of copy machine toner."
Last month, New York state court judge Charles Solomon sentenced Rodriguez to serve between one and three years in prison and set December 10—nearly a year after the former Fried Frank employee was arrested and placed in custody—as Rodriguez's earliest opportunity to be released on parole.
Meanwhile, it appears unlikely that Fried Frank—which has so far been silent about Rodriguez's theft and did not respond to The Am Law Daily's requests for comment on the subject again Thursday—will recoup any of its losses in the form of restitution from Rodriguez. Vance's office moved to seize a retirement account containing roughly $14,000 that Rodriguez accrued while at Fried Frank but was prevented from doing so when Rodriguez's wife, currently in South America, balked at releasing the funds, according to Rodriguez's lawyer, Sharyn Henry of New York County Defender Services.
At a hearing in late May, attorneys for both the prosecution and defense told Solomon they had been unable to locate Rodriguez's wife to obtain the needed signature, but that they planned to ask the Mexican consulate for help locating her. An exasperated-sounding Solomon asked, "You’re going to the Mexican consulate? What year do you want to adjourn this to?" before saying Rodriguez would be sentenced in June regardless of whether his wife turned up.
“There have been a lot of problems in this case," Solomon said at the May hearing, as Rodriguez silently followed the proceedings with the assistance of a Spanish interpreter.
Authorities can still pursue at least partial restitution via civil litigation if they choose to, according to a Vance spokeswoman.