A judge told the former president of Bellmore-Merrick EMS on Wednesday that his apology for stealing about $1.6 million from the volunteer ambulance outfit “rings hollow,” and his actions were “unspeakable.”
Brad Reiter, 50, of Jackson, New Jersey, is now heading to prison for 2 to 6 years after being sentenced for first-degree grand larceny.
Authorities said Reiter siphoned money from the emergency service corps over seven years, tapping money meant to serve the community to pay his bills.
“What you did in terms of stealing from them for your own personal gain is unspeakable,” Acting State Supreme Court Justice Jerald Carter told Reiter in Nassau County Court.
Reiter, who pleaded guilty in April, expressed remorse for his actions in a loud voice as several uniformed members of the EMS company listened in the courtroom.
“I’m very sorry for what I did,” said Reiter, who also had served in the past as the nonprofit’s treasurer and works in the pharmaceuticals field. “ . . . I was wrong, and I’m very remorseful.”
Michael Verbsky, the EMS vice president, told the judge the volunteer organization doesn’t get tax money and operates on a “shoestring budget.” He said the theft caused “irreparable injury” to the nonprofit’s reputation.
“We often spoke of the struggles to save money . . . That he hurt those that considered him family is the saddest part of all,” Verbsky said.
The organization serves Bellmore, North Bellmore, Merrick, North Merrick and some of East Meadow and goes on about 800 emergency runs annually.
Prosecutors have said the theft happened between 2008 and 2015, before new leadership at the outfit uncovered wrongdoing while looking at bank accounts and alerted authorities.
Defense attorney Samuel Rieff asked the judge Wednesday to inform correction officials of his client’s needs for medical attention for diabetes and high blood pressure while in Nassau’s jail. The Garden City lawyer declined comment after court.
Attorney Matthew Weinick, who represents the EMS outfit, said Reiter had agreed to pay restitution and already had paid back some of what he stole under the civil settlement.
“Hopefully when he comes out and he’s working again, we’ll get more,” the Melville lawyer said.
Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement that Reiter “knew the importance of these critical resources to the safety and health of our communities, but outrageously, he stole more than $1.6 million.”
At the time of his arrest, Reiter was an elected member of a board of fire commissioners in Jackson Township, New Jersey. But a board attorney previously said Reiter resigned several months ago and officials found no irregularities after an audit of the body’s accounts.