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Post date: September 26 2008

Attorney General Cuomo Announces Arrest Of Substitute Teacher For Lying About Prior Manslaughter Conviction

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 24, 2008) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the arrest of an Erie County man on a charge of lying to the New York State Education Department about his prior conviction for manslaughter in order to qualify as a substitute teacher.

Harold Eisenman, 60, of Springville, was charged today with offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree (class E Felony), which carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison. According to court records, Eisenman misleadingly explained in a letter to State Education Department that his prior manslaughter conviction stemmed from a car crash. The conviction was actually based on him striking a 2-year-old girl with his hands, which caused her death.

“This individual is charged with trying to deceive the state by lying about his criminal background in order to work in our schools,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Ensuring that New York’s schools are safe for our children is a priority for all of us, and obtaining truthful histories of prospective employees is critical to help make that happen.”

The case was referred to the Attorney General by the State Education Department.

State Education Commissioner Richard Mills said, "When I learned of Mr. Eisenman's deceitful actions, I immediately referred the matter to the Attorney General for criminal prosecution. I am grateful that Attorney General Cuomo acted so swiftly to arrest him. There is no issue more important to the Board of Regents than student safety. With increased focus by the Regents on student safety, the Department last year strengthened its regulations to obtain more extensive background information concerning individuals’ criminal histories. This is now a part of the employment clearance process."

Since 2001, the New York State Education Department (SED) has been required to clear all individuals applying to work in school districts, charter schools and Boards of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES), including substitute teachers. Part of that clearance includes prospective employees submitting their fingerprints for background checks.

In July 2004, according to court records, the SED received fingerprints from Eisenman as he sought clearance to work as a substitute teacher in the Jefferson-Lewis B.O.C.E.S. The New York State Department Criminal Justice Services notified the SED that in late 1973, Eisenman had been arrested for manslaughter in the second degree, convicted the following year and sentenced to a minimum of two years and maximum 10 years in prison. Based on the background check, state education officials sent Eisenman notice that they intended to deny him clearance for employment unless he submitted a response satisfactorily explaining why he should be cleared.

In September 2004, according to court records, the SED received a letter from Eisenman stating that his conviction for manslaughter in the second degree was based upon an incident in which he was the driver of a car, lost control and hit a tree, resulting in a crash that killed a friend in the passenger seat. Based upon this explanation, and recommendation letters that were submitted on Eisenman’s behalf, he was cleared to work as a substitute teacher.

In reality, however, Eisenman’s conviction was based upon a Nassau County indictment stating that on November 30, 1973, Eisenman and another person in Mineola recklessly caused the death of a 2-year-old girl by striking her with their hands and causing injuries resulting in the child’s death.

Eisenman was arraigned today before Albany City Court Judge Will Carter and released on his own recognizance pending a court appearance on Oct. 22.

The charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Richard Ernst under the supervision of Criminal Prosecutions Bureau Chief Gail Heatherly. This case was investigated by Office of the Attorney General Investigators Leslie Arp, Denise Crawford and Sandra Migaj under the supervision of Deputy Chief Investigators David Adams and James L. Domres.