Leon Austern allegedly stole rent and taxes paid by commercial tenantsMINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that a New York City man was arrested today for allegedly stealing money from the owners of commercial shopping mall in Hewlett and using it for personal expenses.
Leon Austern, 69, of New York City, was arrested today by NCDA investigators and charged with one count of Grand Larceny in the 2nd Degree (a C felony). District Court Judge Joseph Girardi conditionally released the defendant to probation and Austern is due back in court on August 23. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum of 5 to 15 years in prison.
“This defendant allegedly stole more than $300,000 in rent and tax payments made by law-abiding businesses, and used the illicit profits for personal purposes,” DA Singas said. “Fraudulent schemes such as these are concerning, especially when they involve a manager who has an extra expectation of responsibility.”
DA Singas said that Austern was the manager of a strip mall shopping center with five commercial tenants owned by Harbro Realty Co., LLC. For his services he was entitled to receive 3.5% of the gross rents collected from its tenants.
Beginning May 3, 2010 to December 18, 2012, Austern allegedly embezzled a net amount of $327,273.80 from Harbro by diverting checks drawn by their tenants for rent and taxes to two bank accounts that he created in the name of Harbro. The accounts were opened secretly without the permission of the corporation.
Austern allegedly spent the stolen money to pay for personal expenses including loan payments, insurance, legal fees, investments, restaurants, health related products, food, beverages, gasoline, household appliances, pool maintenance, utilities and storage fees.
Assistant District Attorney Peter Mancuso of DA Singas’ Government and Consumer Frauds Bureau is prosecuting the case. Austern is represented by William J. Kephart, Esq..
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.