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Hempstead teacher aided computer theft for $2,000, records say

Hempstead High School teacher Theresa Cucina is escorted

Hempstead High School teacher Theresa Cucina is escorted out of the superintendent's office on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, by NYPD officers after her arrest in connection with computer theft. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A Hempstead High School theater teacher facing a grand larceny charge in connection with more than $140,000 in computer equipment she ordered told police she shipped the goods to a third party in exchange for $2,000, according to court papers obtained Wednesday.

Theresa Cucina, 55, of Long Beach, was arraigned late Tuesday in Criminal Court in Manhattan on a charge of grand larceny in the second degree and was released on her own recognizance, officials said.

The case is being handled in Manhattan because that is the location of Compulink Technologies Inc., the company that shipped the computers to Cucina, officials said.

The NYPD said they received a complaint about the alleged theft of computers on Aug. 24. The computers were purchased from Compulink via a district email address. Compulink officials said they complained to police when they didn’t receive payment for the computers.

According to a copy of the criminal complaint released Wednesday against Cucina, she told police she allowed a third party to use the district’s email to purchase the computers “in exchange for $2,000.”

Cucina was represented at her arraignment by the Legal Aid Society, which generally does not comment on its cases.

“There are many other issues we’re investigating right now in other departments” within the district, said schools Superintendent Shimon Waronker, who took office in June. “More is going to come.”

He did not elaborate.

The Compulink computers, which include tablets and laptops with a total value of $141,403.50, were shipped to the Hempstead school district and Cucina’s home, according to the criminal complaint. Three orders were placed between June and August.

An NYPD source has said the stolen equipment was then repackaged and shipped out of Kennedy Airport to an “unknown location.”

Cucina began work as an educator in 1996, according to the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System, where she is listed as Theresa Cucina-Lane. Her salary for the 2016-17 school year was $103,456.94, according to the state system. A list of Cucina’s previous jobs include work at Eastern Suffolk BOCES and the Central Islip, Deer Park, Elwood, North Babylon, Amityville and East Islip school districts.

With Joie Tyrrell and Scott Eidler

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