Former Roslyn schools chief Frank Tassone, sentenced in 2006 for his part in an $11-million embezzlement of the school district, will be released from a state prison Tuesday - eight months and four days earlier than his minimum sentence.
The news sparked outrage in the Roslyn community he betrayed and in the Nassau district attorney's office.
Tassone, 63, is scheduled to leave medium security Hale Creek Correctional Facility in upstate Johnstown, thanks to good behavior and completing rehabilitative programs while incarcerated. He was sentenced in October 2006 to 4 to 12 years.
He will continue to receive his annual state pension of $173,495.04 in monthly installments, as he did while in prison.
Tassone pleaded guilty to first- and second-degree grand larceny and tearfully apologized at his sentencing. Authorities say he fleeced Roslyn of more than $2 million, which has been repaid. The case prompted numerous criminal investigations and state audits of all other school districts in New York as well as new state laws requiring that school board members get financial training before they serve.
Six people, four of whom worked for the district, pleaded guilty in connection to the theft in Roslyn.
"We really don't understand the system of justice that would let Frank Tassone out after all the damage he has done to the Roslyn public schools, including the teachers and the community," said Eleanor Russell, Roslyn teachers' union president.
Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice wrote to the parole board opposing Tassone's release.
"It sends the wrong message to a community that was betrayed in the most sinister way," Rice said in a statement.
Tassone will be on parole until 2018 and cannot work in any job with fiduciary responsibility, said Heather R. Groll, spokeswoman for the state Division of Parole.
While in prison, Tassone had one disciplinary ticket in 2007 for using or possessing an article in an area where its use or possession was prohibited, according to state Department of Correctional Services spokeswoman Linda Foglia.
He also completed programs to earn a release under merit time allowance. The program started in 1997 and 33,007 nonviolent inmates have been released before their court-set parole eligibility date through 2009, Foglia said. The average release was six months before original parole eligibility date.
But release is not automatic and Tassone still required approval by the parole board. He had to submit a residence for approval by parole officials and will live in the Bronx, Groll said. Parole officials declined to comment on his exact address.
Under parole, Tassone will be subject to substance abuse testing, Groll said. He cannot drink, go to a bar, gamble or have contact with certain people. He will have a curfew and cannot have a credit card or a checking account.
His lawyer, Ed Jenks, declined to comment Thursday, as did officials from the Roslyn school district.
Former Assistant Superintendent for Business Pamela Gluckin, who prosecutors say stole $4.3 million from the district, pleaded guilty to first-degree grand larceny and was sentenced to 3 to 9 years. She remains incarcerated in Bayview Correctional Facility in Manhattan.
Gluckin was denied parole in 2009, with the board citing her "disturbing pattern of criminal conduct" and misuse of her position of authority.
She returns before the parole board in May 2011. As part of her plea agreement, she sends half of her $54,998 annual pension directly to Roslyn toward her restitution.
Rice's office said the district has recovered about $5.5 million in all.
Stealing from Roslyn
WHAT HE DID
Investigators say Tassone used multiple district-issued credit cards for cash advances, Botox treatments, mortgage payments and purchases at Tourneau, among other things.
Tassone pleaded guilty to first- and second-degree grand larceny in exchange for a reduced prison term of no more than 4 to 12 years.
He agreed to repay the more than $2 million authorities say he stole from Roslyn. He made full restitution by March 2007.
HOW IT CHANGED THE LAW
In 2005, then-Gov. George Pataki signed into law the School Fiscal Accountability legislation, which tightens fiscal oversight of local school districts, requires financial training for all board members and mandates that the state comptroller audit all school districts at least once by 2010. Those audits are ongoing.