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Long IslandCrime

Friends Academy scammer gets 12 years in $4.5M scheme

Saying his crime was an "egregious and shocking betrayal of trust," a federal judge sentenced a former Garden City stockbroker to 12 years and 7 months in prison Wednesday for swindling $4.5 million from clients, including the parents of some of his daughters' classmates at Friends Academy in Locust Valley.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Bianco also ordered the former broker, Steven Meszaros, 45, to be jailed immediately instead of allowing him to surrender to prison, which is the usual procedure in white-collar criminal cases.

But Bianco said the stiff prison sentence might encourage Meszaros to flee and noted that he had engaged in the past in continuing fraud while out on bail.

Meszaros, who lives in Glen Cove, said before sentencing that "I made some incredibly poor decisions" and apologized to his victims and "to the Friends community. . . . I am ashamed that I brought this to their doorstep."

Meszaros thanked the school for continuing to treat his daughter well despite what he had done to the parents of some of his daughters' friends.

Among the victims of his Ponzi-like scam were Kenneth Cron, the former head of Computer Associates, and Mitchell Fox, a former key executive at Conde Nast and The New York Times.

Cron, who was not in court, declined to comment later in the day. Fox and his wife Kathy, who were in court, also declined to comment. But federal prosecutor Allen Bode quoted a statement by Kathy Fox before the sentencing.

"We were not anonymous victims," the statement read. "People like us who became Meszaros' victims were his neighbors. . . . In fact, our children were friends and classmates, and they still attend the same school together. . . . . We feel violated because he manipulated us into believing that we were friends."

Meszaros' wife, Kristen, who also was in court, declined to comment.

William Morris, the headmaster of the school, could not be reached immediately for comment.

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