EAST MEADOW / Planner in $2-million Ponzi scheme gets 21/3 to 7 years in prison

A financial planner from East Meadow was sentenced yesterday for stealing more than $2 million from friends, members of his family and other victims in a Ponzi scheme.

Jay Hoffman, 58, pleaded guilty last month to a 24-count indictment, including grand larceny and other charges.

Prosecutors said he stole $2.3 million over two decades from more than 20 victims, including members of his family.

County Court Judge Gary Weber sentenced Hoffman yesterday to 21/3 to 7 years in prison.

Hoffman, president of Security Income Planners in Bay Shore, had promised investors up to 12 percent returns on investments, prosecutors said. He told potential clients his investments included apartments that were going co-op and real estate purchases, and investments with lawyers and doctors, prosecutors said.

- Carl MacGowan

VALLEY STREAM / Sexual abuse charges filed against shop teacher at Aviation high school

A New York City shop teacher from Valley Stream repeatedly molested a 16-year-old female student by rubbing against her and touching her breasts and other private parts, according to charges filed yesterday by Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

George Zola, 58, a teacher at Aviation Career & Technical Education High School in Long Island City for more than 20 years, allegedly told the student he was abusing, "This is how it's going to be."

Zola was released on his own recognizance last night after being arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on charges of first degree attempted sexual abuse, third degree sexual abuse, and endangering the welfare of a child.

He faces up to four years in prison if convicted, according to the District Attorney's office. Zola and his lawyer could not be reached for comment.

"As a teacher and an adult, the defendant was in a position of power and had no business engaging in inappropriate contact with one of this students," Brown said in a statement. "Such conduct cannot go unpunished."

Zola touched the student both over and under her clothing, and took her hand and forced her to touch him inappropriately as well, Brown's office charged.

The abuse allegedly occurred between Dec. 1, 2008, and Jan. 22, 2009.

The student, who was not identified, told a school guidance counselor about it in June 2010.

- John Riley

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