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Ex-Needham CFO pleads guilty in theft, was said to buy dog fence

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - A former Needham & Co chief financial officer pleaded guilty to conspiring to steal $1 million from the firm in a false invoicing scheme, in which he used some of the money to pay for vacations, wine and a dog fence, prosecutors said.

As part of his Thursday plea, Glen Albanese, 42, of Manalapan, New Jersey, also agreed to reimburse $1 million to Needham, a New York-based investment banking and brokerage firm, according to U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman in New Jersey.

Prosecutors accused Albanese of running a scheme from 2000 to 2010 in which he induced vendors to submit inflated bills or fake invoices for services that were not provided.

They said Albanese received illegal proceeds by accepting envelopes containing thousands of dollars in cash, or asking vendors to pay personal expenses.

These expenses included such things as home landscaping, thousands of dollars of wine, equestrian equipment, tickets to Walt Disney World and Six Flags theme parks, and "a designer-breed dog and 'canine fence,'" prosecutors said.

Fishman said Albanese entered his plea before U.S. District Judge Peter Sheridan in Trenton, New Jersey, and faces a maximum of 20 years in prison at a February 25, 2014, sentencing.

Two co-conspirators previously entered guilty pleas in the case, Fishman said.

Joseph Benfante, a lawyer for Albanese, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Albanese resigned from Needham in February 2011 after the firm began to question his dealings with vendors, according to records of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, an independent brokerage regulator. Needham was not implicated.

The case is U.S. v. Albanese, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, No. 12-mj-07289.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by John Wallace)