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A former employee at the city medical examiner's office pleaded guilty to helping embezzle millions of dollars, some of which was intended to help identify victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, authorities said Wednesday. Rosa Abreu pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan to charges of embezzlement, money laundering and conspiracy. She faces a maximum 75 years in prison when she is sentenced on Jan. 23, federal prosecutors said.

Abreu was the director of records at the medical examiner's office. Her co-defendant and former boss, Natarajan Venkataran, was scheduled to go to trial on Nov. 26. Abreu was Venkataran's assistant.

Abreu was responsible for supporting computer systems used to track and identify forensic evidence, including DNA, from crime scenes, prosecutors said. After the Sept. 11 attack, the office needed more computer services to identify victims through evidence collected at ground zero.

The two, charged in 2005, steered more than $13 million in computer service contracts and purchase orders between 1999 and 2004 in exchange for cash payments to companies that did little or no work, according to U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia.

The two also directed millions of dollars to three shell companies they created, withdrew cash and made payments to personal accounts and transferred money overseas, prosecutors said.

Many of the office's Sept. 11-related expenses were reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which forwarded more than $46 million to the office in 2002 and 2003, federal authorities said.


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