Tag Archives: preschool

Four charged with stealing $12.4M meant for special needs preschoolers

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Queens District Attorney’s Office

Four men are accused of not providing the services they promised to preschoolers with special needs after they allegedly stole more than $12 million in government funds meant to help the students.

Those charged are all affiliated with the Island Child Development Center (ICDC), a private nonprofit located in Far Rockaway, which mainly offers services to preschool children in the Orthodox Jewish communities of Far Rockaway, and Williamsburg and Borough Park, Brooklyn, according to officials.

The assistant director of ICDC, Rabbi Samuel Hiller, 56, of Far Rockaway; former ICDC executive director Ira Kurman, 52, of Hewlett, N.Y.; Roy Hoffmann, 50, of Woodmere, N.Y., who was hired by ICDC to serve as its independent auditor as required by the state; and Daniel Laniado, 41, of Brooklyn, who was a self-described “investor” in ICDC, are accused of stealing $12.472 million of approximately $27 million in state funds between 2005 and 2012, District Attorney Richard Brown said.

The thefts were uncovered after the state comptroller’s office notified ICDC of a routine audit to be performed in July 2012. When auditors arrived, Kurman had left his position and allegedly took off with his books and records.

The men diverted the money for their own personal use, their relatives, their own business endeavors and to local members of their religious communities, according to officials.

Hiller allegedly diverted around $8 million to several religious schools and camps not affiliated with ICDC.

In addition to criminal charges, the district attorney’s office is seeking the forfeiture of more than $11.472 million in illegally obtained proceeds from those charged. Approximately $1 million has been repaid by two of the schools and camps to which Hiller diverted money and is reflected in that figure, Brown said.

The four were arraigned Tuesday afternoon on a 42-count indictment in which they are variously charged with grand larceny, offering a false instrument for filing, identity theft and falsifying business records. If convicted, they face up to 25 years in prison.




Street Talk: What do you think of Mayor Michael Bloomberg requiring flu shots for students?

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com




It makes sense, students who aren’t vaccinated pose a health risk to the other students.
Albert Sherman


I agree with the idea, it’s in everyone’s best interest to get flu shots.
Derrick Logan


I think the idea is good, but I’m not sure it’s his place to force vaccinations on students.
George Thomas


I don’t see why anyone would be against this policy; children are supposed to be getting their flu shots anyway.
Jaime Davis


I just feel sorry for people who might not be able to afford a flu shot for their children. What are they supposed to do?
Joann Banks


I think Bloomberg should just mind his own business. He’s on his way out of office soon anyway, there’s no point in starting this up now.
Kristina Ballard


I think it’s a good idea from a logical standpoint, because vaccinations are a good thing. But, it’s not right to force them on people who might not want to give their kids a flu shot for whatever reason.
Matt Clayton


On the one hand, I can see why it’s good for kids to be vaccinated, but on the other hand, it shouldn’t be forced on them, even though it’s for the best.
Stacy Palmer

Janitor charges school infested with mice

| brennison@queenscourier.com

file photo
	Dead mice are dispersed from room to room, and rodent droppings are scattered across the kitchen.
	One would not expect such a scene at a school, but this is precisely what Brendan Dunn claims is the sanitation status at 82nd Street Academics, a private preschool located at 81-10 35th Avenue in Jackson Heights.
	“It was an ongoing issue,” said Dunn, a former janitor at the school. “In the five months I worked there, I found up to 200 dead mice. Even more were found by other employees and exterminators. Some were in the kitchen behind the fridge, under the counter and in classrooms.”
	While cleaning the kitchen on June 22, Dunn says he discovered a cabinet carpeted with mouse droppings. With classes still in session, Dunn immediately notified the school’s administrators, who he says did not seem the least bit disturbed or concerned.
	Dunn was told the cabinet belonged to the Community United Methodist Church, which is attached to the preschool, and that the combination to the cabinet’s lock was unknown at that time. When Dunn persisted that the situation was a hazard to the students and faculty, he was advised by a school supervisor to cut the lock and clean the cabinet.
	The following day, Dunn was asked to replace the lock he cut. He refused and was subsequently fired by the school’s executive director, Dr. Ronald Tompkins, a former pastor.
	“As janitor, what came first was the health and safety of the students and everyone who worked there,” Dunn said. “The school is cheap when it comes to things the students and teachers need, but they’re not cheap when it comes to their own paychecks.”
	According to Dunn, the rodent infestation is not the school’s only hygienic issue.
	“My first two weeks working there, half of the plumbing in the school didn’t work,” Dunn said. “Toilets were out of order and overflowed, forcing children to walk in dirty toilet water.”
	Dunn also says a coworker was instructed by a school administrator to serve students and parents food that came in direct contact with mouse droppings.
	Tompkins insists that the school pays for regular extermination service and that Dunn was told not to cut the cabinet lock. He refused to comment further.
	When Dunn attempted to reason with Tompkins and explain that he would be left destitute without his job, he says the pastor told him it “wasn’t his problem.”
	After being fired, Dunn was forced to move out of his apartment and spent the following month and a half unemployed and sleeping on the couches of various acquaintances.
	Dunn also claims he was owed money when he was fired, and when the school did not pay him, he recruited the aid of the Independent Workers Movement, an alliance of seven groups that fight for labor rights.
	“We decided to go with Mr. Dunn and visit Dr. Tompkins,” said Daniel Rivera, an organizer with the Independent Workers Movement. “Tompkins is a pretty arrogant guy. He didn’t want to speak with Brendan, and he asked one of the employees to call the police. It was a simple labor matter, and all of a sudden we were being treated like criminals. Eventually a check was received from the school for Brendan. We are so happy to see Brendan fight back, because it shows other workers that it is possible to fight against these abuses.”