Tuesday, February 11, 2014
 

 

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Attorney accused of stealing nearly $2 million from cemetery association

NEW YORK – The former acting president of United Hebrew Cemetery faces felony grand larceny charges for embezzling nearly $2 million from the nonprofit. He faces up to 25 years in prison. 

According to the indictment unsealed today in Richmond County Supreme Court and statements made by the prosecutor at arraignment, the Attorney General's investigation revealed that Timothy Griffin, 54, of Ridgefield, Connecticut, stole the money from United Hebrew Cemetery between October 2012 and January 2014. During this period, Griffin was the acting president of United Hebrew Cemetery, having assumed that role after the former president and his wife were indicted by the Attorney General’s office for embezzling more than $1 million. Griffin abused his position to make six unauthorized wire transfers ranging from $250,000 to $385,000 to his own attorney escrow account.

“It's always sad and shocking when we discover that someone used a charity as their own personal piggy bank,” said State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “New York has the greatest nonprofit sector in the nation, but a case like this reminds us of the need to remain vigilant and strengthen our oversight of the industry. Stealing from not-for-profit organizations is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Those who abuse their positions at not-for-profits to line their own pockets will be held accountable."

United Hebrew Cemetery is a Jewish nonprofit cemetery located at 122 Arthur Kill Road in Staten Island. A prior investigation by the Attorney General's Office revealed that the Cemetery's former administrator, Ilana Friedman, stole over $850,000 between 2005 and 2011. Ilana Friedman was convicted of felony grand larceny charges in April 2013. Both she and her husband Arthur Friedman, the former president of United Hebrew Cemetery, were permanently banned from working in the funeral or cemetery industry.

After the Friedmans were removed by the board, United Hebrew Cemetery appointed Griffin, their outside counsel, as acting president. A subsequent audit by United Hebrew Cemetery and investigation by the Attorney General’s Office revealed that after his appointment, Griffin himself then embezzled almost $2 million from United Hebrew Cemetery.

Griffin is charged with one count of grand larceny in the first degree and six counts of grand larceny in the second degree. All counts are  felonies. Griffin is currently being held in liieue oof o$750,000 bond over $250,000 cash bail.

If convicted, Griffin faces a maximum sentence of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison.