An 80-year-old South Jersey man who admitted stealing $2.5 million from his former employer has been sentenced to five years in state prison, the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office said.

Charles Esposito, of Hainesport, had worked as an accounting manager for Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope of Moorestown. He was sentenced before Superior Court Judge Christopher J. Garrenger after pleading guilty last year to theft by deception and failure to pay income taxes on his unlawful earnings.

Officials at the company began to investigate Esposito in April 2019 after concerns were raised about a handwritten check for $18,500 that had been signed by him and had another signature that appeared to have been forged, the Prosecutor’s Office said.

In all, Esposito was able to divert $2,537,655 for his personal gain through 243 fraudulent transactions between 2005 and April 2019 by circumventing the company’s check-issuance procedures, authorities said.

”This was a long-term deception and the amount, certainly, is staggering,” Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Remy said at Esposito’s sentencing hearing.

The prosecutor said Esposito was upset with some of the company’s policies, including a recent downsizing. “Certainly, because you disagree with the company’s practices, you don’t burn the company down,” the prosecutor said. “You don’t steal from the company in that way. You leave your job. You say, ‘Listen, this isn’t the place for me,’ and you walk away.”

Remy said Esposito had already paid back a substantial amount of his restitution.

Esposito’s attorney, Michael Mormando, said Esposito has no prior criminal history, served in the Navy, has close ties to the community, and acted the way he did because of depression.

A remorseful Esposito told the judge: “I’m truly, truly sorry for what I did to a company” that employed him for 45 years.

“Theft of any kind can be devastating to a company,” Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said in a statement. “The Prosecutor’s Office and our law enforcement partners stand ready to assist businesses as needed when criminal activity is suspected.”