Woman Pleads Guilty to Stealing Nearly $1M From Staten Island Cemetery
RICHMOND TOWN — A Brooklyn woman has pleaded guilty to stealing almost $1 million from the Staten Island cemetery where she worked over a six-year period, authorities said.
Ilana Friedman, 51, admitted taking money — some of which was supposed to be used for headstones — from the United Hebrew Cemetery, at 122 Arthur Kill Rd., according to the state attorney general's office.
Friedman used the loot to buy jewelry, groceries and electronics at Costco, court papers said. She also spent at least $9,000 on entertainment during a Las Vegas trip, the papers said.
She and her husband Arthur Friedman, 56 — the cemetery’s former president — operated and controlled the UHC from the mid-1990s until 2011, court papers show. Friedman held various positions during her husband’s tenure as head of the cemetery, including vice president and treasurer, and she was also a paid board member.
“The Friedmans abused their posts at this Staten Island cemetery to enrich themselves,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. “This law-breaking husband-and-wife team will now pay for their shameless misconduct.”
Ilana Friedman admitted to grand larceny on Tuesday in Staten Island Supreme Court, and she will be required to pay back $1 million to the cemetery, court papers said. She will not serve any jail time.
Arthur Friedman did not face charges because he was not accused of theft, but court documents criticized him for failing to oversee his wife's activities.
On several occasions, Ilana Friedman pocketed cash payments from bereaved families for funeral expenses to pay for personal items, court papers said.
The couple also received a fee from a percentage of graves sold and use of a luxury car leased by the UHC, and they used UHC-issued credit cards for personal expenses, court papers said.
The settlement bars the Friedmans from any work at a New York cemetery, funeral home or burial service, and neither can serve as a trustee, director or office for any New York nonprofit association.