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Post date: February 4 2015

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Prison Sentence For Lawyer Charged With Stealing Almost $2 Million From Staten Island Nonprofit

Timothy Griffin Stole From Staten Island Cemetery To Hide Theft Of Client Money and Fund Lavish Lifestyle; Will Be Sentenced To 3 To 9 Years In Prison

Schneiderman: Those Who Abuse Their Positions At Not-For-Profits To Line Their Own Pockets Will Be Held Accountable

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the guilty plea of Westchester attorney Timothy Griffin, former acting president of United Hebrew Cemetery, on the charge of Grand Larceny in the First Degree. Griffin admitted to embezzling nearly $2 million from the not-for-profit, and he will be sentenced to 3 to 9 years in prison.

“This defendant not only stole from the clients of his law practice, but then stole millions from his charity in an attempt to disguise that theft,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “My office has zero tolerance for anyone who abuses the public trust by taking advantage of a position at a nonprofit. If you use a charity as your own personal piggy bank, you will face serious consequences, including jail time.”

The Attorney General's investigation revealed that Griffin, a Bronxville real estate attorney, stole nearly $2 million from United Hebrew Cemetery in Staten Island. In late 2012, Griffin was asked to serve as Acting President of the Cemetery after the previous president and his wife were found guilty of embezzling approximately $850,000, as the result of a prior investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s office. In his capacity as Acting President, Griffin made six unauthorized wire transfers from the Cemetery’s account to his own attorney escrow account, totaling $1.9 million.

Griffin stole from United Hebrew Cemetery to cover up his theft of more than $1 million from his legal clients between April 2009 and February 2014. As a real estate attorney, Griffin’s clients gave him money to be held in escrow for pending transactions. Instead of keeping the money in escrow, as required by law, Griffin transferred it to his personal bank account and then used it to fund his lavish lifestyle, including membership at Westchester’s Waccabuc Country Club, a BMW, a Lexus, expensive jewelry and other personal expenses.

Today, Griffin pled guilty before the Honorable Stephen Rooney in Richmond County Supreme Court to one count of Grand Larceny in the First Degree, a Class B felony, in exchange for a sentence of 3 to 9 years in prison.  As part of his plea, Griffin also agreed to sign a confession of judgment in favor of United Hebrew Cemetery in the amount of $1,832,764.00.  

Griffin was separately charged by the Attorney General with multiple counts of Grand Larceny for the thefts from his clients, and he is expected to plead guilty to these counts on February 19, 2015 in Westchester County Court.  Last week, Griffin was sentenced in Connecticut federal court to six months in prison for tax evasion charges.

The Attorney General's Office thanks the New York State Department of State, Division of Cemeteries, for their valuable assistance in this case.

The case is being prosecuted by Gary T. Fishman, Chief of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau, with the assistance of Supervising Legal Analyst Paul Strocko. The Attorney General's Criminal Justice Division is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Kelly Donovan.

The investigation was handled by Investigators Sixto Santiago, Ryan Fannon and Supervising Investigator Luis Carter of the Investigation Division. Also assisting in the investigation were Supervising Auditor Edward J. Keegan and Associate Auditor Matthew Croghan. The Investigations Division is led by Chief Dominick Zarrella.