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DA: Treasurer stole $15G from Viscardi PTA

John Rom, 57, of Roslyn Heights, was arrested

John Rom, 57, of Roslyn Heights, was arrested in the theft of more than $15,000 from a parent-teacher association at the Henry Viscardi School for children with severe physical and medical disabilities in Albertson. (Dec. 11, 2012) Photo Credit: Nassau District Attorney

A Roslyn Heights man is accused of stealing more than $15,000 from the parent-teacher group at an Albertson school for children with severe disabilities where his own daughter is a student, prosecutors said.

John Rom, 57, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to third-degree grand larceny before First District Court Judge Sondra Pardes in Hempstead. He was released on his own recognizance.

He faces up to 7 years in prison if convicted and is due back in court Dec. 17.

Rom, who has no record of prior arrests or convictions, was represented by Legal Aid, though the judge determined Rom is not eligible for assigned counsel.

"This defendant may have thought that the effects of the economic downturn warranted this theft, but the fact is he stole money from children with severe disabilities that are already facing immense obstacles," Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice said.

Prosecutors said Rom, who served as treasurer of the Henry Viscardi School Special Education Parents Teachers Association, embezzled $15,885 from the group between February 2009 and May 2011 by writing unauthorized checks that were made payable to himself or to cash.

Rom also made withdrawals from the association's bank account for school expenses, instead spending the money on personal living expenses after he lost his job and his home to foreclosure, prosecutors said.

According to its website, the Henry Viscardi School was founded in 1961 and is "dedicated to empowering students with physical disabilities and health impairments to enable them to be active, independent, self-sufficient participants in society."

The theft was discovered when the PTA's financial records were audited. Prosecutors said school officials are cooperating with the investigation.

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