Two former employees in the city medical examiner's office were charged with embezzling millions of dollars intended to help identify victims of the World Trade Center attack.

Natarajan R. Venkataram, 41, and Rosa Abreu, 38, were arrested Wednesday.

"These defendants breached their positions of trust and responsibility and took advantage of a national tragedy," said Rose Gill Hearn, city commissioner of investigation.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, the Federal Emergency Management Agency forwarded millions of dollars to help the medical examiner buy computer hardware, software and support services to identify the dead.

Prosecutors said Friday that the defendants, both administrators in the medical examiner's office, steered an $11.4 million contract to a company controlled by an associate of Venkataram's. The company did some work, but most of the money went to companies that did little or nothing and were sometimes controlled by the defendants, prosecutors said.

About $5.5 million was allegedly transferred at Venkataram's direction to bank accounts in India.

A lawyer for Venkataram declined to comment. Abreu's attorney did not immediately return a call.