A New York City property manager has been indicted on charges he stole more than $327,000 from the owner of a Hewlett strip mall, prosecutors said Friday.
Leon Austern, 69, of Manhattan, stole the money from shopping center owner Harbro Realty Co. between 2010 and 2012, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said.
Austern is charged with second-degree grand larceny and was released to probation pending his return to court on April 28. If convicted, he faces 5-to-15 years in prison.
Singas said that Austern was the manager of the strip mall, which had five commercial tenants, and said the thefts took place between May 3, 2010, and Dec. 18, 2012.
According to Singas, Austern was entitled to 3 1/2 percent of the gross rents on the property — but instead embezzled $327,273.80 from Harbro by “diverting checks drawn by their tenants for rent and taxes to two bank accounts that he created in the name” of Harbro. Those accounts were opened secretly, Singas said, and without the permission of Harbro.
Singas said the diverted funds were then used to pay personal expenses, including loans, insurance and legal fees, as well as being used to make investments and pay restaurant bills and other bills — like for health products, food, beverages, gasoline, household appliances, pool maintenance, utilities and storage feeds.
“This defendant was trusted to handle his employer’s accounts,” Singas said in a statement, “but instead he allegedly executed a calculated scheme to steal money and use it for personal expenses.”
Back in 2016 an attorney for Austern called the entire matter no more than “a business dispute.” It was not immediately clear if that attorney still represented Austern.