Dwight Newton, 40, created a fake employee called "Brooklyn Museum" or "Brooklyn" and funneled 138 separate payroll checks from April 2005 until July 2008 into his personal bank account, according to an FBI affidavit.
Newton, of East Brunswick, N.J., deposited 24 fake payroll checks totaling $164,000 last year alone -- before leaving the museum to take another job, prosecutors said. He had worked there since 2002, officials said.
The art museum said it recently discovered the thefts during an annual review of payroll documents. The institution said it hired a law firm to investigate and contacted the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney.
Newton faced federal fraud charges Thursday afternoon in Brooklyn federal court. No plea was entered and he was released on a $600,000 bond.
In a statement, the Brooklyn Museum said it "will vigorously seek restitution of the stolen funds, and the Museum has taken swift action to assure that such a theft will not happen again."