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Bridgehampton school chief quits over theft

Nicki Hemby, the Bridgehampton School Board president, has

Nicki Hemby, the Bridgehampton School Board president, has resigned after pleading guilty to stealing from her former employer. Credit: handout

The Bridgehampton School Board president has resigned after pleading guilty to stealing from her former employer.

Nicki Hemby, 41, of Bridgehampton, stepped down Monday. She avoided jail by agreeing last week to do community service and pay back the more than $80,000, officials said.

In a resignation letter, Hemby did not mention her crime.

"Due to medical and personal reasons, I feel that I can no longer fulfill my obligation in office," she wrote.

Hemby pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny June 25 in Southampton Town Justice Court and agreed to repay $80,430.08, the amount Suffolk prosecutors said she embezzled from her previous employer, Suburban Sanitation in Sag Harbor.

As part of the plea, prosecutors agreed to let Hemby serve 280 hours of community service in lieu of spending 60 days in jail, said Robert Clifford, a spokesman for the Suffolk district attorney.

In an email, Bridgehampton Superintendent Lois R. Favre wrote that Hemby "has served the district well in her capacity as a board member . . . Ms. Hemby has been a committed and dedicated member of the Board of Education. She always kept children at the center of her decision making, as well as a concern for the local taxpayer."

The thefts occurred from January 2009 to November 2011, Clifford said. Hemby used the sanitation company's credit card to pay for personal expenses, including airline tickets, car rental, purchases and hotel stays, Clifford said.

Hemby joined the school board in 2008 and was re-elected in 2011. She did not return messages left on her phone or email Tuesday.

In a statement to The Southampton Press, which first reported Hemby's resignation, she apologized to "any and all who have been affected by my poor judgment," according to her email published in the newspaper. "Please know that the poor choices I made years ago have no reflection on the school district, work and/or my family."

Bridgehampton school board members and the Parent Teacher Organization could not be reached for comment.

She was caught in 2011 when the owner of Suburban Sanitation was told the company's 2010 taxes hadn't been paid, Clifford said. Bridgehampton National Bank also contacted the owner regarding "questionable" expenses.

Clifford said Suburban Sanitation hired a firm to conduct an audit and found the thefts.

A woman who answered the phone at the company Tuesday would not comment.

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