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Man who scammed Home Depot's donation-matching program sentenced

Alfred Williams, 57, of Queens, was arrested and

Alfred Williams, 57, of Queens, was arrested and charged with using the company's donation-matching program and a religious charity organization he controlled to allegedly steal more than $100,000. (Nov. 7, 2013) Credit: Nassau District Attorney's Office

A Queens man who stole from his employer's donation-matching program for charities was sentenced Thursday to 5 years probation and ordered to pay full restitution of $17,500, the Nassau district attorney's office said.

Alfred Williams, 57, of Queens Village, had pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny in February after the Home Depot Foundation sent his Faith Without Walls International Ministries more than $111,000 between 2009 and 2012, matching what the company believed were donations from more than 40 employees, prosecutors said.

He had been a Home Depot employee since 1991 and worked at the Elmont location at the time, officials said.

But because the foundation bars matching contributions to employees' charities, Williams hid the fact that he was the pastor and president of the group, which he ran out of his home and registered as a nonprofit in 2004, prosecutors said. At one time, the nonprofit did conduct public services in Queens, prosecutors said.

Williams deposited the checks and spent some of the money for his personal needs, the district attorney's office said.

His attorney, Marvin Hirsch of Mineola, said Williams offered "sincere apologies" in court at sentencing. He used the money to support his family, buying a computer and other items that were not "high ticket," the attorney said.

"Mr. Williams recognizes that he acted inappropriately," Hirsh said. "He was a trusted employee with a good work record. . . . You'll never see him as part of the criminal justice system again."

Williams was caught after a Home Depot employee tried to donate to another charity in December 2011 and was denied and told she had already maxed out on the allowable match amount for the year, prosecutors said.

She complained, and when Home Depot officials began investigating, they terminated more than $57,000 in unprocessed, pending matching funds to Williams' group and placed stop payment orders on any outstanding checks to him, prosecutors said.

Investigators recovered all but $17,500, the amount he had withdrawn out of the Home Depot's charitable dollars, authorities said.

Williams was arrested in November after an investigation by Nassau police and the district attorney's office.

"Employee matching programs are an important source of funding for nonprofits, and abuse of those programs puts the vital services provided by legitimate charities and religious organizations at risk," District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a news release. "With this sentence, this defendant will be held accountable for diverting money that should have gone to help fund organizations looking to improve the lives of others."

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