A financial planner embezzled almost $1.7 million from a camp for special-needs children, including his own, and from three other victims, using the money to dine out, golf and travel at their expense, Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice said Wednesday.
Drew Morgan, 42, of Rockville Centre, used his leadership positions at two nonprofits to steal almost $1.1 million intended for Camp ANCHOR in Lido Beach and another $130,558 intended for the camp and a group that helps people with autism, Rice said.
Investigators uncovered the theft while examining his bank records after two sisters filed a complaint last year against Morgan, the principal at DKM Financial Corp. and owner of Rockland Venture Capital. Instead of putting their $475,000 into investments, he spent it on himself, prosecutors said.
Morgan surrendered at Rice's office and was arraigned on charges of first-degree grand larceny and three counts of second-degree grand larceny. He was released after posting a $240,000 bond.
His Manhattan attorney, Gary Farrell, said Morgan was involved in some legitimate "high-risk, high-reward" investments and said those will account for some funds that authorities say were stolen. "Mr. Morgan hopes for a fair resolution of this case," Farrell said, "and he hopes to make any victims whole at the end of the day."
Morgan was the treasurer and a board member for the Anchor Building Fund, set up to pay for construction of a Camp ANCHOR recreation center named for three camp counselors who died in a car crash. Morgan's daughter went to the camp, his attorney said.
Hempstead Town runs the camp but had no control over the nonprofit because it was a "completely independent" endeavor started by camp parents, town spokesman Michael Deery said.
"We didn't have any idea that anything was amiss," he said.
At least 900 children and adults attend Camp ANCHOR. The parents wanted a recreation center there, he said, because for years the program's participants were like nomads without a brick-and-mortar building at Lido Beach, using tents there during the summer and other facilities in the town during the winter.
The Malone-Mulhall Recreation Center is being named after three camp counselors from Floral Park -- Paige Malone, 19, her sister Jamie, 22, and Michael Mulhall, 22 -- who died in 2010 in a car crash on the Meadowbrook State Parkway.
Donations "skyrocketed" after their deaths, said Peggy Mulhall, Michael Mulhall's mother and one of the camp parents.
But from February 2008 to January of this year, Morgan siphoned off the donations for travel, purchases and other expenses, prosecutors said.
Other officials connected with the funds did not return calls.
The Malone sisters' mother called Morgan a "creep."
"I hate to hear this," said Diane Malone, 60, of Floral Park. "From an organization like that he would steal from? How heartless."
After the counselors' deaths, town officials took on the recreation center as a $6 million capital project and expect to open the building soon.
Prosecutors said Morgan was also treasurer and president of Corporation for Social and Exceptionally Challenged Kids when he stole from the nonprofit between June 2010 and December. The group raises money for Camp ANCHOR and Impact OASIS, which finds housing and jobs for people with autism.
Because he was a financial planner, two sisters gave him money between April 2008 and January 2010 -- one sister gave $250,000 and the other $225,000 -- but Morgan pocketed the money, prosecutors said.
Morgan faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
"This defendant lived the high life at the expense of some of our community's most vulnerable members," Rice said in a statement. "Mr. Morgan was trusted to enrich the lives of children and adults with special needs who rely on these charities for socialization, recreation, and an improvement to their quality of life.
"In the end, however, he revealed himself to be little more than a con man."
With John Valenti