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Cops: Woman took nonprofit's funds using stolen identity

A Westbury woman who opened bank accounts with a stolen identity was arraigned Wednesday on grand larceny charges after depositing more than $180,000 in checks stolen from a nonprofit, Nassau County police said.

Marie Augustin, 42, was first arrested on a grand larceny charge March 27 when a TD Bank teller became suspicious. She was arrested again Tuesday on more charges in the ongoing investigation, police said.

Using a Suffolk woman's identity, Augustin got a fake Pennsylvania driver's license in February and notarized business certificates stating she was the principal in two Pennsylvania companies, both vendors for the Jewish National Fund in Manhattan, said Det. Sgt. Richard Harasym of the crimes against properties squad.

That helped her open accounts at three Nassau banks, police said, and deposit three checks written by the nonprofit to pay the vendors, Telerx Marketing and Direct Dimensions. Police said she deposited $79,338.24 at Wells Fargo, $30,000 at Bank of America, and then $71,239.24 at TD Bank.

Augustin withdrew a total of $20,000 cash from two TD Bank branches on March 26, police said, and $26,500 from a third branch the next day.

She was caught on her second, March 27 attempt, at the Rockville Centre TD Bank, police said. She wanted $19,000, Harasym said, but asked for $10,000 after the teller said the bank had to report anything higher to federal officials.

The bank manager called Rockville Centre police, who arrested her.

"I look at the dollar amount and the short amount of time she was able to do all of this -- it's amazing," Harasym said. "That's the kind of person who scares me. These are people who can get a lot of money."

The Jewish National Fund knew something was amiss when its vendors said they hadn't been paid, said spokesman Adam Brill. He said company officials don't believe employees were involved and that the banks absorbed the losses, not the group, which funds environmental programs.

Investigators must figure out how Augustin stole an identity, got the checks and disposed of the cash, Harasym said. They are looking into who had access to the mail, he said.

Augustin, of 257 Linden Ave., was held on $100,000 bail after arraignment on the new charges: second-degree grand larceny, two counts of third-degree grand larceny and first-degree identity theft. Her attorney could not be reached.

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