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Post date: October 2 2013

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Guilty Plea By Former Head Of The It Department At The College Of Staten Island (Csi) Who Stole $25,000

Defendant To Make Restitution To CUNY

Schneiderman: My Office Will Vigorously Protect New York's Public Educational Institutions From Fraud And Theft

NEW YORK - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that Avi Gannon, who led the Information Technology Department at CSI, a college within the CUNY system, from 2007 to 2011, pleaded guilty in Richmond County Criminal Court to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony. He will pay CUNY $25,000 in restitution, and will also forgo over $21,000 that CUNY would otherwise have paid him in annual leave. 

"Some thieves think no one will notice if they 'skim off the top' from an employer over a period of years, robbing them of significant funds. But this type of crime is particularly insidious, especially when the victim is a treasured educational institution like CUNY," Attorney General Schneiderman said. "My office will do everything it can to crack down on this kind of fraud and ensure that the money Gannon stole is returned to CUNY to support a quality education for its students."

According to the Attorney General's felony complaint, Gannon, age 42 of Staten Island, used his position in CSI's Information Technology Department -- and thus as someone authorized to make purchases for the school on a school-issued credit card or school account -- to steal thousands of dollars worth of items for himself over a five and a half year period. To carry out his theft, Gannon created and submitted false records to CSI, making it look as if the charges on his credit card statements were for items he bought for the school rather than ones he had bought for himself. CSI, relying on the records Gannon submitted, unknowingly paid the bills for the items Gannon was stealing. Among the hundreds of purchases Gannon made with school money were: children's Ugg boots, New Balance sneakers, Maui Jim sunglasses, a woman's Coach purse, an electric guitar, framed movie posters, and comp! uter games. Gannon bought most of these items online and had them shipped directly to his home. 

In a related scheme, Gannon also stole thousands of dollars from CUNY by selling items on eBay that belonged to CUNY. In some instances Gannon was selling the items he had bought on his school credit card (for example, the children's Ugg boots) and in other instances Gannon was selling items he had bought on a school account (for example, smart phones and hard drives). Either way, CUNY was again unknowingly footing the bill for over 75 items Gannon was selling. 

Gannon has agreed to restitution and a period of Conditional Discharge in exchange for a guilty plea to Grand Larceny. 

The Attorney General thanked the General Counsel's Office at CUNY for its assistance with the investigation. 

This case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Rachel Doft, under the supervision of Public Integrity Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz, Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau Chief Gary Fishman, Public Integrity Bureau Chief William E. Schaeffer, and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan. The prosecutors were assisted by Investigations Bureau OAG Investigator Sylvia Rivera, under the supervision of Deputy Chief John McManus and Chief Dominick Zarrella.

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