A judge on Wednesday sentenced a former North Hempstead Town employee to a conditional discharge with restitution of more than $98,000 on charges she embezzled funds from the town’s Solid Waste Management Authority between 2014 and 2016.
Helen McCann, 53, of Roslyn Heights, was sentenced in Nassau Criminal Court by Judge Angelo Deligatti and ordered to pay $50,000 restitution to North Hempstead Town and a civil judgment of $48,330 to the town’s insurance company, Maryland-based company Fidelity & Deposit.
Judge Deligatti said that the negotiated plea was based on McCann’s payment of restitution, and also her medical condition, which required her to enter the courtroom in a wheelchair.
McCann pleaded guilty on Jan. 17 to one count of second-degree corrupting the government. She and her lawyer, Richard Librett, of Manhattan-based Librett Friedland LLP, both declined to comment.
“This defendant betrayed the trust placed in her to safeguard public funds at the North Hempstead Solid Waste Management Authority,” said Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas in a release. “With this sentence, we have made the taxpayers whole.”
McCann worked for the town since 1998, first as a longtime secretary to former Supervisor Jon Kaiman. In 2014, she began working as an administrative assistant for the Solid Waste Management Authority, where she had an annual salary of $56,650. In January 2016, she was “terminated for stealing,” said town spokeswoman Carole Trottere.
Prosecutors alleged that McCann took money that the town charged residents for disposing of yard waste and other debris at a drop-off site, a fee calculated by weight. McCann was responsible for transferring cash payments to a bank. Four months into her new position, the weekly deposits into the town’s bank account were often lower than the cash indicated on scale reports.
From May 2014 to January 2016, McCann embezzled about $98,862 from the town. Annual deposits in the town’s bank account for the resident disposal fees plummeted from $62,649 in 2014 to $17,467 in 2015.
After revelations of her embezzlement came to light, North Hempstead Town made numerous changes to both personnel and policy. Two months after McCann was fired, the executive director and deputy director of the Solid Waste Management also left their positions. In December 2016, the town announced it would no longer be accepting cash for resident waste disposal.
“We no longer take cash at the Solid Waste Management Authority and engaged an outside auditor to review cash handling in town departments. We are following the recommendations,” Trottere said.
The town also adopted new anti-nepotism policies in March 2017, which restrict the supervision of relatives and require staff to disclose the names of family members also employed by the town. McCann’s brother, John Tiernan, is a highway construction manager, who made $127,818 last year.
Another brother, Thomas Tiernan, resigned from his position as highway superintendent in November 2016 after four decades working for the town, amid an internal investigation into his department’s overtime use. Jill Guiney, Thomas Tiernan’s wife, is a civil engineer for the Department of Public Works and made $132,403 last year. Their son is a laborer for the Port Washington Parking District.