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Bronx Man Charged With Stealing $5.7 Million from Columbia University

By DNAinfo Staff on December 15, 2010 3:56pm

A Bronx man was charged with stealing $5.7 million from Columbia University.
A Bronx man was charged with stealing $5.7 million from Columbia University.
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DNAinfo/Mariel S. Clark

By Shayna Jacobs

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — A Bronx man who stole $5.7 million from Columbia University had more than $200,000 in stolen cash when he was arrested outside his home in November, prosecutors said Wednesday.

George Castro, 48, was arraigned on charges of grand larceny, possession of stolen property and money laundering in Manhattan Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Castro allegedly "redirected" fund transfers from Columbia University to New York Presbyterian Hospital, including rent payments and other transactions stemming from legitimate operations between the institutions, the DA said.

He had access to Columbia's private financial information, though prosecutors wouldn't say how. They only specified that he was not a computer "hacker" in the traditional sense, implying that he had some other way of getting the University's account information. They would not confirm whether Castro had help from a university employee or someone else on campus with access to confidential data.

The alleged thief, who drove an Audi and made cash withdrawals from ATMs almost immediately after making alleged illegal transfers, ran a company called IT & Securities Solutions, LLC, which had no affiliation with Columbia. The DA is looking into whether his company served any legitimate purpose.

"[The] investigation is continuing into all aspects [of the case]," Manhattan DA Cy Vance Jr. told reporters.

Vance said that his office's ability to quickly get Castro in custody allowed them to recover $4.1 million before the suspect was able to move or spend the money.

Castro is currently being held in custody on a $2 million bail.