A Hewlett strip mall manager is facing a grand larceny charge after authorities say he embezzled about $327,000 from his employer.
The Nassau district attorney’s office has alleged that Leon Austern, 69, of Manhattan, stole the money from shopping center owner Harbro Realty Co between 2010 and 2012.
Investigators arrested Austern on Tuesday before his arraignment on the felony charge in First District Court in Hempstead, authorities said.
Prosecutors say Austern diverted commercial tenants’ rent and tax payments to two bank accounts he secretly opened in the company’s name.
They’re alleging he then used the money for personal expenses including loan payments, insurance, legal fees, food, gasoline, household appliances and health-related products.
However, an attorney for Austern defended his client’s actions Tuesday.
“This is nothing more than a business dispute that is civil in nature and the company was made whole,” Garden City attorney William Kephart said.
Prosecutors said a judge released Austern, who faces up to 5 to 15 years in prison if convicted, to the supervision of probation officials.