The Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow.

The Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Nassau University Medical Center’s former payroll director has admitted to a felony grand larceny charge after her indictment for allegedly embezzling more than $121,000 from the East Meadow facility, court records show.

But Arlena Mann, 47, of Bay Shore, could get her plea reduced to a misdemeanor deal and spend less than 90 days in jail if she finishes 210 hours of community service and pays back a “meaningful” portion of the money within a year, prosecutors said Monday.

A Nassau District Attorney’s Office spokesman said in a statement that while evidence of Mann’s guilt was “overwhelming,” she had no prior criminal record and there was “additional information related to the defendant’s situation at the time of the crime” that figured into her plea deal Friday in Nassau County Court.

Mann’s attorney, David Ayres, said in a Newsday interview Monday that his client, a mother of three, used the money to escape domestic abuse.

“When faced with the choice between keeping herself and her kids in an abusive home and a cycle of domestic violence or getting out and into a safe place, she made the only choice that she thought she had. Desperation led her to make a bad decision, but she made it for the right reasons,” Ayres said.

The Garden City defense lawyer added that Mann was “taking responsibility for that decision and looks forward to moving past it.” 

Nassau District Attorney Anne Donnelly said in a statement after Mann’s March indictment on grand larceny and falsifying business record charges that the defendant “allegedly used her access to key bookkeeping and payroll software to bilk the cash-strapped public hospital” out of funds she said the facility “sorely needs to provide adequate services and patient care to Nassau County residents.”

Newsday reported earlier this month that the public benefit corporation that runs Nassau University Medical Center suffered a record operating loss of $135.6 million in 2021, according to a new audit that prompted warnings the institution could run out of cash by the end of next year.

In Mann's case, prosecutors had alleged she changed the banking information for ex-employees to six bank accounts she controlled while using the hospital’s payroll software to supposedly make payments to staffers who recently had left their jobs.

Mann made more than 50 financial transfers to herself, then voided the payments in bookkeeping software to make it look like no money had been sent, according to the district attorney’s office.

Prosecutors said another employee discovered the theft and Mann lost her job after an internal investigation that led later to her indictment. They said previously that Mann was facing up to 5 to 15 years in prison if convicted. 

“Arlena Mann has admitted that she owes Nassau University Medical Center the funds that she stole, she will complete significant community service, and could still face jail time. This result holds Mann accountable, while giving her the best opportunity to be able to repay NUMC,” Donnelly’s spokesman, Brendan Brosh, also said in a statement Monday.

The judge will sign an order at Mann’s sentencing saying she owes $121,605.39 —  the full amount of the theft — minus any restitution payments made by then, according to prosecutors.

 They said Mann’s sentencing won’t happen for up to a year to give her time to do community service and start to pay back the money. 

If Mann doesn’t finish the required community service in a year, the potential misdemeanor deal won’t happen and she will get five years of probation for the felony conviction, according to prosecutors.

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