The former chief of facilities for the Hempstead School District was sentenced to 3 years probation Thursday for a $50,000 kickback scheme in which he allowed a contactor to use his district's credit card to fraudulently buy building supplies.
In sentencing Timothy Gregg, 49, of Uniondale, U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert said she was showing compassion because of the "heartbreaking" circumstances of his life at the time of the crime.
She noted Gregg had a history of working hard throughout his life and had not committed other crimes. The judge said that Gregg’s criminal actions appeared "aberrant," saying "a jail sentence is not warranted."
Before he was sentenced, a weeping Gregg said his life had fallen apart while he spent months watching his wife die of cancer. In addition to witnessing her suffering, Gregg told the judge, he saw his finances that supported his family, including two children, drastically reduced.
He was let go by the school district and said he is currently unemployed having been laid off from his current job because of the coronavirus epidemic.
"It happened," Gregg said of the scheme. "I can’t take it back … it just took hold of me."
Officials had recommended that Gregg, who had pleaded guilty in September of 2019 to access device fraud — for the illegal use of his credit card — get a sentence of 10 months in prison.
Under the terms of the sentence, Gregg has to repay the restitution the rate of 10% of his future salary.
Gregg’s attorney, Joseph LoPiccolo, of Garden City, said afterward: "I believe the judge fairly weighted the circumstances of the case.
In court papers, LoPiccolo said his client was "a flawed man who has struggled to manage his personal and professional life since the passing of his wife."
According to court papers, Gregg would go with the unnamed contractor to the Home Depot in Hempstead as the scheme unfolded between 2017 and 2018. There, Gregg — who was employed by the district for more than 20 years — would allow the contractor to use his district credit card to purchase building supplies.
The contractor would then meet with Gregg in the store’s parking lot and give him half the total value of the purchases he made, in a combination of cash, as well as building material to use for improvements to Gregg’s Uniondale home, officials said.
In all, the contractor gave Gregg a total of $15,000 in cash and the remainder in building material, officials said.
The scheme was uncovered after district employees at the Hempstead Home Depot noticed a man attempting to use a school district credit card and claiming he was a district employee, officials said. The employees knew the man did not work for the district, and he fled the store when the district employees approached him, officials said.
Officials said the encounter in the store triggered an investigation by a lawyer the district hired, officials said. The Nassau District Attorney’s office also was involved in the investigation.
When Gregg was confronted about the findings of the investigation, he resigned before he could be fired, officials said.
At the time of Gregg’s arrest, the school board issued a statement saying that the uncovering of Gregg’s actions was "part of the new narrative that we are establishing for Hempstead schools, which is one of improving students’ achievements ad zero tolerance for misconduct."