WHAT WENT WRONG IN HEMPSTEAD SCHOOLS?
- Authorities cite “unfettered” access to union’s money until 2016
- Investigation began after complaints in January 2018
- WATCH 37%: CBS2’s special report on Hempstead’s schools
MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The former president of the Hempstead Schools Civil Service Association is facing charges of embezzling more than $90,000 during a four-year span.
Annette Greer, 54, of Hempstead, was arraigned Friday and charged with grand larceny in the third degree, a charge which could carry a maximum penalty of up to seven years in prison.
Family members tried to block Greer from view as she appeared at her arraignment, reports CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.
According to the Nassau County district attorney’s office, during Greer’s tenure from 2013 through June 2017, a total of 53 unauthorized cash withdrawals totaling more than $50,000 were allegedly made, and one $1,500 unauthorized scholarship payment was made to her son who investigators say did not attend college.
Other expenses allegedly included cell phone payments, retirement plaques, barbecues and other union expenses, but investigators say she pocketed the money for herself.
“The members of the Hempstead Schools Civil Service Association entrusted this defendant with their union dues to represent and support them, but instead she allegedly pocketed their money for her personal use,” said District Attorney Madeline Singas.
The union represents 270 clerical, security, nurses and food service workers.
According to authorities, as president Greer had access to the union’s bank account, which was funded by dues paid by the HSCSA union members. Greer had complete control over the union checkbook until July 2016.
The Hempstead Schools Civil Service Association and the New York State Unified Teachers filed a complaint with the NCDA in January 2018, and an investigation immediately commenced.
“In June 2017, the defendant left office, and a new President of the HSCSA was elected and found discrepancies with the union finances,” said Singas’ office in a statement. “Following a review by New York State Unified Teachers – a federation of more than 1,200 local unions – it was discovered that from August 2014 through June 2017 the defendant allegedly made unauthorized check payments, purchases, and withdrawals that totaled $90,651.18.”
Hempstead Schools Civil Service Association President Pam Parsley issued a statement Friday about the charges:
“We are obviously deeply troubled by what has occurred. My fellow officers and I are committed to the highest ethical standards. As soon as we discovered something was amiss, we immediately began an internal investigation; called on our state union for support and notified local authorities. We have been cooperating with the Nassau County district attorney’s office from the beginning. Nothing is more important to us than the trust and confidence of our members. To that end, we have put in place stronger internal controls to ensure nothing like this can even happen again. In addition, our local union, like many organizations, is indemnified against losses through an insurer. Our members will be made whole.”
Greer’s defense attorney spoke as the family was leaving court.
“She’s a lovely lady, I’m surprised at the charges,” said attorney Ron Bekoff. “We are going to investigate ourselves and see what its about.”
There has been no comment from the Hempstead School Board.
Board minutes show Greer, a long time secretary and assistant supervisor of transportation, was granted a leave of absence in March.
The district, one of the worst performing in the nation, has long been embroiled in divisions and allegations of corruption.
WATCH: 37%, What Went Wrong In The Hempstead School District
“She was not acting by herself,” said recently voted-out school board president Maribel Touree to CBS2. “Many more people need to be investigated.”
Greer is due back in court Oct. 22.