Frank Tassone felt he was entitled.
That's how the former Roslyn schools chief, released from prison Tuesday for his part in an $11-million embezzlement of the district, rationalized his role in one of the state's biggest public fraud cases.
"I lost my way. At that time, I took advantage of my position. I think part of it had to do with my thinking I had a sense of entitlement. I was very successful," Tassone said in a parole board hearing transcript released Tuesday by the New York State Division of Parole.
"I knew at one point that what I was doing was wrong. I absolutely did."
Tassone, 63, left the medium security Hale Creek Correctional Facility in upstate Johnstown at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in a private vehicle, according to state Department of Correctional Services officials. He was sentenced in October 2006, to 4 to 12 years, but was let out more than 8 months early for good behavior and completing rehabilitative programs.
In the transcript from the Oct. 14 hearing, Tassone said he never committed a crime before. Prosecutors say he took more than $2 million in Roslyn, which he has paid back.
"Every day I go back and say why. This is the last place I ever thought I would find myself in my life," Tassone said.
But some in Roslyn were not swayed. Eleanor Russell, president of the Roslyn Teachers Association, said, "It really almost leaves me speechless to see that Frank Tassone, the former superintendent, still does not understand the devastation that he caused to the Roslyn community and its teachers."
Tassone will continue to receive his annual state pension of $173,495.04 in monthly installments, as he did in prison.
Parole officials said he has an approved residence in the Bronx. He told the board he would like to educate former inmates and had taught inmates while in prison. Tassone pleaded guilty to first- and second-degree grand larceny.
In the transcript, Tassone admitted misappropriating school funds and using his credit card inappropriately. Six people, four of whom worked for the district, pleaded guilty in connection to the theft in Roslyn.
Tassone said the scam, which ran for six years, started out "very small," with a lunch that was not business-related.
He laid some of the blame on the former assistant superintendent for business, whose name is redacted in the transcript. Prosecutors say Pamela Gluckin, who held that position, stole $4.3 million from the district. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 3 to 9 years and remains in prison.
In the transcript, Tassone said he was told by the assistant superintendent for business and the auditor, whose name was redacted, that he was entitled to a "great many advantages" because of his contract and he said he was told by the auditor that spending $10,000 a month "was appropriate."
An attorney for Gluckin did not return a call Tuesday.
But an attorney for former Roslyn school district auditor Andrew Miller, who was sentenced in 2006 to 4 months in jail for falsifying school records, said Tassone was lying. Miller was never charged with stealing any money.
"Obviously Mr. Tassone's time in prison has not taught him how to speak the truth," said attorney William Petrillo, of Rockville Centre. "He continually lies about Mr. Miller - the only person in this case who never stole one penny."
With Pervaiz Shallwani
Tassone's parole restrictions
Tassone will be on parole until 2018, and cannot work in any job that has fiduciary responsibilities.
He will be subject to substance abuse testing, cannot drink, go to a bar, gamble or have contact with certain people.
He will have a curfew and cannot have a credit card or a checking account.
He will continue to receive his annual state pension of $173,495.04 in monthly installments, as he did in prison.