The ‘rogue intern’ speaks! Says he stole gallery cash after false accusation

Every employer’s nightmare — summer intern steals from his mentor
Photo by Kate Briquelet

The rogue intern who allegedly swiped cash from a Boerum Hill gallery said he did it to get even with his boss for wrongly accusing him of stealing a phone.

James Baker, 16, of Queens, stole more than $1,000 from the Invisible Dog on Bergen Street, police said.

But there is more to this “every employer’s nightmare” story.

But before he surrendered to police on Saturday, Baker told The Brooklyn Paper that his internship was going great — until gallery owner Lucien Zayan blamed him for a missing iPhone.

“I was treated good at first, and then an iPhone goes missing, and I’m the first one he blames,” Baker said. “If he would have never blamed me, I would have never double-crossed him like that. I felt he was a cool guy.”

Because Zayan was so “cool,” the teenager said that he had no problem with the menial tasks he was asked to perform during his four-week internship: changing light bulbs and fetching coffee while gallery staff smoked cigarettes. But then Zayan pointed his finger over the iPhone.

So on May 9, Baker asked Zayan if he could use the computer to check his e-mail, but instead transferred $500 from an open PayPal window, cops said.

Zayan discovered the transfer almost immediately, in an e-mail confirmation from PayPal.

Zayan confronted the clumsy acolyte, who stormed off and headed straight for the bank to cash a $950 check he took from a company closet.

This week, Zayan denied the intern’s account, saying that he didn’t ask Baker about the missing iPhone until afterthe PayPal breach.

“I had no evidence, so I couldn’t accuse him,” Zayan said. “It should have been very easy to suspect him for everything, but I don’t work like that.”

Neither does Baker, he said.

“I should have never done it,” Baker said this week. “If I could go back in time and quit instead, I would.”

Baker had been placed at Invisible Dog through Exalt, a program that finds paid internships for troubled teens. Since Zayan filed the crime report, Exalt has expelled Baker and refunded Zayan’s money. The rest is now up to the police.