Four men are accused of not providing the services they promised to preschoolers with special needs after they allegedly stole more than $12 million in government funds meant to help the students.
Those charged are all affiliated with the Island Child Development Center (ICDC), a private nonprofit located in Far Rockaway, which mainly offers services to preschool children in the Orthodox Jewish communities of Far Rockaway, and Williamsburg and Borough Park, Brooklyn, according to officials.
The assistant director of ICDC, Rabbi Samuel Hiller, 56, of Far Rockaway; former ICDC executive director Ira Kurman, 52, of Hewlett, N.Y.; Roy Hoffmann, 50, of Woodmere, N.Y., who was hired by ICDC to serve as its independent auditor as required by the state; and Daniel Laniado, 41, of Brooklyn, who was a self-described “investor” in ICDC, are accused of stealing $12.472 million of approximately $27 million in state funds between 2005 and 2012, District Attorney Richard Brown said.
The thefts were uncovered after the state comptroller’s office notified ICDC of a routine audit to be performed in July 2012. When auditors arrived, Kurman had left his position and allegedly took off with his books and records.
The men diverted the money for their own personal use, their relatives, their own business endeavors and to local members of their religious communities, according to officials.
Hiller allegedly diverted around $8 million to several religious schools and camps not affiliated with ICDC.
In addition to criminal charges, the district attorney’s office is seeking the forfeiture of more than $11.472 million in illegally obtained proceeds from those charged. Approximately $1 million has been repaid by two of the schools and camps to which Hiller diverted money and is reflected in that figure, Brown said.
The four were arraigned Tuesday afternoon on a 42-count indictment in which they are variously charged with grand larceny, offering a false instrument for filing, identity theft and falsifying business records. If convicted, they face up to 25 years in prison.
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