A New Jersey man who once headed Bellmore-Merrick EMS is now accused of stealing about $1.6 million from the volunteer ambulance company in what authorities alleged was a seven-year scheme in which he took money that was meant to help people and used it to pay his bills.
Brad Reiter, 50, who served in the past as president and treasurer of the nonprofit, surrendered Tuesday at the Nassau district attorney's office, prosecutors said.
He later pleaded not guilty to first-degree grand larceny at a Hempstead court arraignment before a judge set bail at $250,000 bond or $125,000 cash.
Reiter's attorney, Samuel Rieff of Garden City, said in court that his client has no criminal record, is married with two children, and works in the pharmaceuticals field.
The lawyer and Reiter's mother, who also was in court, declined to comment later.
Nassau acting District Attorney Madeline Singas alleged that Reiter, of Jackson, New Jersey, stole the money between 2008 and March 2015 before new leadership at the private ambulance company discovered the wrongdoing and contacted her office.
"It was a long-term scheme to . . . steal money from EMS and divert funds that should have been going to help people into his own pocket to help him pay his bills," Singas said in remarks to reporters.
"It's a lot of money that could have been used to service . . . an industry that so many of us rely on every single day when our loved ones are sick."
Authorities contend Reiter, who faces up to 81/3 to 25 years in prison if convicted, used the money to pay off credit cards, and on insurance bills, lawn services, security system services and other payments to himself. Authorities said the money came from insurance companies that had paid the nonprofit for its ambulance services.
Singas said EMS volunteers "devote their time, and their energy and their expertise, and to be swindled by someone like this is really offensive," before adding of Reiter: "He totally usurped that trust and turned it into profit for himself. And that won't be tolerated."
Prosecutors have alleged that to hide the money the defendant kept some bank accounts in New Jersey and some in Nassau County, drawing money from accounts that others in the nonprofit didn't know existed.
"We are stunned by this betrayal of trust that was uncovered by our organization," Bellmore-Merrick EMS spokesman Andy Kraus said Tuesday.
He added that the ambulance company, which responds to about 800 emergency calls a year, isn't tax supported and so no taxpayer dollars were stolen.
Kraus said Reiter had volunteered as an administrator and also went on EMS runs. The spokesman said the new board of directors has since put new financial safeguards in place and increased oversight, including by using a new billing company, new accounting procedures and putting new controls on writing checks.
Kraus said the EMS outfit is seeking full restitution and has "already recovered a portion of the missing funds," adding that the nonprofit's "ability to serve the community has not been diminished."
Reiter is listed online as an elected member of a board of fire commissioners in Jackson Township in New Jersey's Ocean County. Officials there didn't immediately respond to an inquiry Tuesday .