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Rabbi Charged With Looting Special Needs Funds

Four men indicted for diverting $12.4 million from Queens children’s center

Lily Wilf
May 14, 2014
Island Child Development Center in Queens, N.Y. (Village Voice/Google Maps)
Island Child Development Center in Queens, N.Y. (Village Voice/Google Maps)

Four men, including one rabbi, were indicted in New York for stealing more than $12.4 million of city and state funding intended for students with special needs. According to a statement issued yesterday by the Queens County District Attorney, 56-year-old rabbi Samuel Hiller was indicted on grand larceny and other charges.

The story has been developing since March of last year, when news broke that the Island Child Development Center in Queens, N.Y., which provides special education services to preschoolers, was illegally diverting millions of taxpayer dollars. Hiller is the Center’s assistant director.

According to the indictment, the defendants reportedly stole money meant for Island Child to fund personal expenses, home repairs, and various Orthodox Jewish institutions in New York. Approximately $8 million went to religious schools and summer camps, including $3 million to Bnos Bais Yaakov Academy, an Orthodox girls school where Rabbi Hiller is principal.

The other three men, from Hewlett, Brooklyn, and Woodmere, were accused of a number of offenses, including forging checks, lending stolen funds to community members, and paying for wedding and bar mitzvah catering with the state’s money. If convicted, each of the defendants could face up to 25 years in prison.

Lily Wilf is an editorial intern at Tablet.

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