Less than 24 hours after he welcomed VIP guests and dignitaries to the grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for Revolutions at Saucon Valley, the new entertainment venue's general manager was no longer working there, according to published media sources that quoted parent company Frank Entertainment.
But a lot can happen in less than 24 hours.
It was unclear whether James Fortunato was fired from his new job or left voluntarily, but what is known is that the day after the ribbon-cutting in Lower Saucon Township, allegations surfaced that he embezzled more than $160,000 from Allentown's Cosmopolitan restaurant, where he was formerly the general manager.
Frank Entertainment declined further comment about Fortunato, but said it had just been made aware of the allegations against him, according to articles in both the Express-Times and the Morning Call.
Charges against the 41-year-old North Whitehall Township resident were first made public on Friday in a news release from the Office of Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin.
According to the news release, Fortunato, of the 2300 block of Black Forest Drive, has been charged with theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property "for allegedly stealing $163,601 from the (Cosmopolitan) restaurant and using the money for his own personal use."
Fortunato's personal use expenditures allegedly included "expenses for dinner cruises, visits to a strip club, purchases for household items at a retail store, and ATM cash withdrawals in Pennsylvania and New York," Martin's office announced.
He was able to access the funds because--after he was promoted to the position of general manager in the fall of 2010--he was given check-signing authority for the Cosmopolitan's Wells Fargo checking accounts, an Embassy Bank checking account, an ATM/debit card account for Wells Fargo Bank, a Visa card, an American Express account and access to the cash receipts from the restaurant, the news release said.
He had access to those accounts "only for the legitimate operation of the restaurant," the district attorney said.
Fortunato was arraigned Friday by District Judge David M. Howells Jr. at Lehigh County Central Booking.
He was then released on $50,000 unsecured bail, with a preliminary hearing scheduled for 10am Feb. 1 at the office of District Judge Karen Devine, according to the news release.