A Far Rockaway pre-school executive director and assistants has been sentenced to jail time for theft of education funds intended for special needs students. The Island Child Development Center was once one of the city’s largest providers of special education services to preschoolers with disabilities.
State Comptroller DiNapoli said, “My office’s audit and extensive investigation with Queens County District Attorney Richard A. Brown brought four scammers to justice for their thefts at the Island Child Development Center. Our joint work resulted in a recovery of $8 million that was stolen from special education funds.”
Ira Kurmen of Hewlett, Long Island pleaded guilty in December 2017, to third-degree grand larceny and was sentenced to six months in jail and five years’ probation. Kurmen and his three co-defendants – Samuel Hiller, 60, of Far Rockaway, Daniel Laniado, 45, of Brooklyn, and Roy Hoffmann, 54, of Woodmere – were indicted on the alleged thefts in 2014. Samuel Hiller, who was the assistant director of ICDC, pleaded guilty to first-degree grand larceny and was sentenced to 1 to 3 years in prison and ordered to pay $5 million in restitution. All were accused of illegally diverting millions of dollars of the $27 million received in state funding.
District Attorney Brown said, “The funds provided to this center were designated to aid children with special needs. However, this defendant and his co-defendants, treated the allocated money as if it were their own personal pocket change. Those who would victimize children for their own personal gain will be brought to justice and held accountable for their actions.”