Lawyer Arrested for Stealing Nearly $2M From Staten Island Cemetery
RICHMONDTOWN — The acting president of a Staten Island Jewish cemetery was arrested for embezzling nearly $2 million dollars from the nonprofit — in a stunning repeat of the actions of the disgraced president he was tapped to replace, the Attorney General announced.
Timothy Griffin, 54, a lawyer who lives in Connecticut, was appointed acting president of the United Hebrew Cemetery, 122 Arthur Kill Rd., after the previous president and his wife were arrested for stealing money from the cemetery.
However, after his appointment, Griffin started to transfer money from the cemetery into his own escrow account, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.
"It's always sad and shocking when we discover that someone used a charity as their own personal piggy bank," Schneiderman said in a statement. "Stealing from not-for-profit organizations is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Those who abuse their positions at not-for-profits to line their own pockets will be held accountable."
From October 2012 to last month, Griffin made six transfers ranging from $250,000 to $385,000 into his account, Schneiderman said.
Griffin took over as president of the cemetery after its former president, Arthur Friedman, was ousted amid a controversy that he allowed his wife, Ilana Friedman to steal almost $1 million from the cemetery between 2006 and 2011.
Ilana Friedman, 51, was arrested in April 2013 and later pleaded guilty to taking the money — which was supposed to be used to pay for headstones for the deceased buried in their cemetery — instead using it to buy jewelry, electronics, groceries and pay for a trip to Las Vegas, according to court papers.
Griffin was appointed as president after the Friedmans had been removed by the board in 2011.
According to an audit, Griffin followed in his predecessors' footsteps, embezzling $2 million in cemetery money between Oct. 2012 and Jan. 2014.
Griffin was arraigned on Monday on charges of grand larceny, and pleaded not guilty.
He was being held at Rikers on Monday on $750,000 bond, $250,000 cash bail, and he faces up to a maximum of 25 years in prison if found guilty, the attorney general said.
Griffin's lawyer, Mark Geisser, did not immediately respond to requests for comments for this story.