Guilty plea in Elmont Home Depot charity scam

Alfred Williams, 57, of Queens, was arrested and Alfred Williams, 57, of Queens, was arrested and charged with using the company's donation-matching program and a religious charity organization he controlled to allegedly steal more than $100,000. (Nov. 7, 2013) Photo Credit: Nassau District Attorney's Office

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A former worker at the Elmont Home Depot pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing more than $111,000 by siphoning his co-workers' matching contributions to his religious foundation, prosecutors said.

Alfred Williams, 57, of Queens Village, pleaded guilty in Nassau County Court to one count of grand larceny. In a statement, prosecutors said they will seek an unspecified amount of restitution and a sentence of one to three years in prison. That is substantially less than what the former lower-level supervisor faced when charged in November.

Authorities had said the potential penalty was up to 15 years in prison if he had been convicted of grand larceny and identity theft. Prosecutors did not say why the recommended sentence was cut and referred questions to law enforcement. A Nassau police spokesman would not comment.

Williams' lawyer, Marvin Hirsch, said his client will have to repay only $17,000 because that's the amount he collected.

"According to the district attorney, papers were filed that could have generated that kind of money, but it never came to pass," Hirsch said, referring to the $111,000.

Investigators said they also uncovered more than $57,000 in donations that Home Depot's foundation had yet to process.

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Williams, who joined Home Depot in 1991, set up a home-based charity, Faith Without Walls International Ministries, and falsely reported to the company's gift-matching program that over 40 employees had donated to his group, prosecutors said, adding that the charity performed "public services in Queens at one time."

Home Depot blocked payments to Williams' group after an employee said she had tried to donate to another charity under the matching program and was told she had already given the annual maximum.

A Home Depot official also would not comment.

"By using the good will of a charity foundation and in the name of a religious organization, Mr. Williams took advantage of the charitable spirit of good-hearted people for his personal financial gain," Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice said.Hirsh said he did not believe his client was trying to enrich himself.

"His intentions - I think - were to use it for positive programs but that never came to pass."

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