STATEN ISLAND, NY – A husband and wife stole approximately $771,000 in public funds by falsifying business records for The Gingerbread Learning Center, Inc., a pre-school serving special needs children on Staten Island.
Throughout the course of the scheme, the defendants diverted public funds to purchase personal items. The defendants were sentenced in state Supreme Court, St. George, Staten Island to five years’ probation and ordered them to make restitution in the amount of $625,000 and forfeit assets of $175,000.
“Diverting money meant to aid children with specials needs is simply reprehensible,” State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said. “Thanks to my staff in partnership with District Attorney Michael E. McMahon and the New York City Police Department, these individuals must pay back the funds they stole. We will continue to work with law enforcement across New York to protect taxpayers’ money and vulnerable New Yorkers.”
The Gingerbread Learning Center was in contract with the City of New York to provide special education programs to pre-school children, serving approximately 100 students annually, and was required to file yearly reports outlining the company’s yearly expenses and costs. The audit was prompted by an anonymous complaint received by the State Department of Education.
“This husband and wife stole taxpayer money that should have gone to help special needs children, but instead was spent on their own personal indulgences. We believe such deplorable crimes deserve nothing short of prison time, but the judge on this case ultimately sentenced the defendants to five years’ probation over the strong objections of my office,” District Attorney Michael E. McMahon said. “They are now convicted felons and have been ordered to pay back the money they stole out of the hands of the children and families of our community.”
Between, January 2015 and August 2015, an audit of The Gingerbread Learning Center conducted by the State Comptroller’s Office revealed that items listed on the company’s Consolidated Fiscal Reports (CFR) for fiscal years 2010-2011; 2011-2012; and 2012-2013, and filed with the State Department of Education, were not reasonably related and necessary to the company’s operations, but instead were for the benefit of defendants Dennis Mosesman and Elsie Mosesman.