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Photo via Shutterstock
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A Far Rockaway man has been sentenced for stealing $5 million in city and state funding, which was intended for special needs students between ages 3 and 5, between 2005 and 2012.

Rabbi Samuel Hiller, 59, pleaded guilty to first-degree grand larceny in April. He was sentenced to one to three years in prison.

As a part of his plea agreement, Hiller made restitution of $1 million, forfeited over $1 million in seized assets, signed a confession of judgment for over $3 million to the Department of Education, and made a full and truthful completion of a “Statement of Financial Condition.”

Hiller is the former assistant director of Island Child Development Center (ICDC), a now-defunct private, not-for-profit company that primarily provided services to preschool children in the Orthodox Jewish communities of Far Rockaway in Queens, Williamsburg and Borough Park in Brooklyn.

From 2005 to 2012, Hiller and his three co-defendants, Ira Kurman, 54, Roy Hoffmann, 53, and Daniel Laniado, 44, illegally diverted more than $12 million of the $27 million ICDC received in state funding to their relatives, to their for-profit businesses and toward personal expenses including jewelry, a family wedding and home renovations. Each defendant pleaded guilty to various charges for their involvement in the theft.

Kurman, who was the former Executive Director of ICDC, and Hoffman, an independent auditor hired by ICDC, pleaded guilty to first-degree and second degree grand larceny, respectively, and are currently awaiting sentencing in December. Laniado, an “investor” in ICDC, pleaded guilty to first-degree identity theft in April. As part of his plea agreement, Laniado made restitution of $82,000 to the NYC DOE, signed a confession of judgment of over $1 million and forfeited nearly $8,000.

District Attorney Brown said, “The betrayal of the public trust by this defendant who stole funds which were earmarked for special needs pre-schoolers with disabilities and used for his personal gain was deplorable. The sentence imposed today by the Court sends a strong message that people who are engaged in fraudulent activities will be brought to justice and held accountable for their actions.”

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