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DA: Hewlett man gets jail in theft from special-needs preschool

A Hewlett man has been sentenced to 6 months in jail for his role in the theft of millions of dollars from a government-funded Far Rockaway facility that provided special education to children, officials said Tuesday.

Ira Kurmen, 55, former executive director of the facility, must make $650,000 in restitution and serve 5 years’ probation after his release, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said.

Kurmen, who pleaded guilty last year to grand larceny, was sentenced Monday by Justice Richard L. Buchter in state Supreme Court in Queens, Brown said.

The case was referred to his office, Brown said, after the state comptroller’s office notified Kurmen and others at the Island Child Development Center it was planning an audit.

“When state auditors arrived for the meeting in July 2012 they were informed that Kurmen had left his position and had taken his books and records with him,” Brown said.

The development center, since closed, primarily provided services to children in the Orthodox Jewish communities of Far Rockaway in Queens and Williamsburg and Borough Park in Brooklyn, the prosecutor said.

Kurmen was the last of four men sentenced after pleading guilty to grand larceny for stealing from the center.

The investigation resulted in the recovery of $8 million in stolen funds, Brown said. The four defendants had diverted some of the money to their relatives and used another portion for their private, for-profit businesses and personal items, including jewelry, a family wedding and home renovations, according to Brown.

Rabbi Samuel Hiller, 60, of Far Rockaway, formerly the facility’s assistant director, pleaded guilty to grand larceny and received a sentence of one to three years in prison and must pay $5 million in restitution, Brown said.

Roy Hoffman, 54, of Woodmere, who served as an independent auditor at the center, also pleaded guilty to grand larceny and was sentenced to 6 months in jail and five years’ probation and paid $180,000 in restitution, Brown said.

Daniel Laniado, 45, of Brooklyn, an investor in the center, pleaded guilty to identity theft and signed a confession of judgment for $1.3 million. He received no jail time but must make $82,000 in restitution, Brown said.

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