A special-education teacher who had lost her certification stole the identities of two other teachers so she could continue working with special-needs children, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said Wednesday.
Aimee Stark, also known as Aimee Forman, 41, of Mount Kisco in Westchester County, was arraigned Wednesday on a 40-count indictment that includes allegations spanning almost 18 months and involving agencies on Long Island, in New York City and in Westchester.
“This unlicensed teacher allegedly lied her way into employment on multiple occasions, using the identities of two licensed professionals, and worked in the homes of very young, special-needs children,” Singas said in a statement.
Stark pleaded not guilty before State Supreme Court Justice Angelo Delligatti in Nassau, who set bail at $50,000 bond or $25,000 cash. She is scheduled to return to court May 4. Stark faces a maximum of 3 1⁄2 to 7 years in prison if convicted of the top count of identity theft.
The State Education Department had revoked Stark’s teaching license in 2014. The agency did not respond Wednesday to a question about the revocation.
Stark carried out the alleged activities in Brooklyn and Queens and in Westchester County, Singas’ office said. She provided home service to more than 10 families and performed many evaluations, which included meeting with a child once and determining his or her level of need. Stark made more than 300 visits.
Most of the children, generally from infants up to 5 years old, lived in or attended day care in Brooklyn, Singas’ office said. Stark visited them in their homes and sometimes at day care.
Prosecutors do not believe she worked with any children in Nassau or Suffolk counties.
The two teachers whose identities she allegedly stole were from Merrick and from Pound Ridge in Westchester. One agency that she allegedly gave false credentials to was Designing Futures in Valley Stream.
The first victim, a longtime friend of Stark’s, was notified by her employer in November 2014 that there was a complaint about fraudulent billing, Singas said. The licensed teacher was informed “she” had submitted an invoice for a session in Nassau County and a session in Westchester County that occurred at the same time.
The victim contacted Autism Early Enrichment Services, based in New York City, about the Westchester billing and was informed that “she” was a contractor working for the company and that an invoice had been submitted for payment. The victim never had worked for AEES, and it soon was discovered that the woman employed was Aimee Stark, Singas said.
Stark had provided a copy of the victim’s teaching certificate, a resumé in the victim’s name, a copy of an altered Social Security card and a copy of a New York State driver’s license bearing the victim’s name, but with the defendant’s photo, Singas said.
The victim contacted Nassau County police and the State Education Department. Nassau police arrested Stark on Jan. 15, 2015.
A second case involving Stark emerged in April 2015.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Provider Oversight Unit discovered that both before and after her arrest, Stark used that same victim’s identity and had obtained employment with numerous other agencies that provided in-home services to special-needs children.
The New York City Education Department was able to confirm the allegation.
In November 2015, a case involving a second alleged victim, also a certified teacher, was brought to the attention of authorities.
The owner of the Valley Stream agency contacted Singas’ office when she noticed several irregularities in a work application in the name of the second victim, Singas said.
Among the irregularities, the owner noticed that a teaching certificate was missing; she ran the listed service provider’s profile number and discovered it belonged to the first victim; and the number provided in the application was connected to Stark’s Facebook profile. In addition, a review of the New York State driver’s license that Stark had given the agency showed Stark’s photo under the name of the second victim, the district attorney said.
A fourth case of identity theft emerged in January, Singas said.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Providers Oversight Unit informed Singas’ office that a search of the second victim’s name turned up one result, PM Evaluation and Therapy, where Stark had submitted more than 300 payment invoices, Singas said.
A review of the human resource file for the second victim at PM Evaluation and Therapy contained a New York State driver’s license bearing the photo of Stark and the name of the second identity-theft victim, Singas said.
Stark was charged with six counts of first-degree identity theft, four counts of third-degree grand larceny, 15 counts of first-degree falsifying business records, 14 counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument; and first-degree scheme to defraud. All are felonies.
She also has an open probation violation case in Westchester County, according to Singas’ office.