MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced that a Queens man working at the Elmont Home Depot has pleaded guilty today for using his employer’s donation-matching program and a religious charity organization he controlled to steal more than $111,000 for his personal use.
Alfred Williams, 57, of Queens Village, pleaded guilty today before Nassau County Court Judge Alan Honorof to one count of Grand Larceny in the 2nd Degree (a C felony). Prosecutors are recommending a sentence of 1 to 3 years in prison, plus restitution.
Williams was arrested in November 2013 by the Nassau County Police Department’s Crimes Against Property Squad as a result of a joint investigation with DA Rice’s office and Home Depot investigators.
“By using the good will of a charity foundation and in the name of a religious organization, Mr. Williams took advantage of the charitable spirit of good-hearted people for his personal financial gain,” DA Rice said. “Crimes like these have a chilling effect on giving, and make it more difficult for legitimate charities to ask for badly-needed donations for worthy causes.”
DA Rice said Williams had been a Home Depot employee since 1991 and worked at the Home Depot store at 600 Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont since 2007. He is the Pastor and President of a small religious organization named “Faith Without Walls International Ministries” (FWW), which he registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 2004. FWW had conducted public services in Queens at one time and operated administratively out of Williams’ home in Queens Village, where FWW had a mailing address.
Between early 2009 and 2012, Williams used the Home Depot Foundation’s 1:1 Gift Matching Program to deposit in excess of $111,000 by falsely reporting to the Foundation that over 40 fellow employees had given donations to Faith Without Walls. The Foundation, upon receiving false information from FWW that the donations had been received, sent matching donations to FWW, which Williams deposited for his personal use. The Foundation prohibits charities run by employees from receiving matching funds, but Williams purposely did not list himself as a contact for FWW.
A scam was first suspected in December 2011, when a Home Depot employee sought to make a donation to a separate charitable organization using the Home Depot Charitable Gift Matching Program. The employee was denied, being told that she had already donated the maximum amount allowable for that year. The employee made a complaint to The Home Depot, which initiated an investigation.
As part of its investigation, The Home Depot also discovered that there were still pending donations, in excess of $57,000, which had been registered by Williams, but had not yet been processed and matched by the Home Depot Foundation.
As a result of that investigation, the Home Depot Foundation terminated Faith Without Wall’s participation in the Gift Matching Program, terminated any outstanding donations which had been registered, placed stop payments on any outstanding payments to FWW, and forwarded the case to DA Rice and the Nassau County Police Department. After an investigation was conducted by DA Rice’s Office, the Nassau County Police Department’s Crimes Against Property Squad, and Home Depot, the case was presented directly to the Grand Jury, which returned a sealed indictment in September.
Assistant District Attorney Edward Bradley of DA Rice’s Government & Consumer Frauds Bureau is prosecuting the case. Williams is represented by Marvin Hirsch, Esq.