MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that a New York City property manager was arraigned today on an indictment charge for allegedly stealing more than $327,000 from the owners of commercial shopping mall in Hewlett.
Leon Austern, 69, was arraigned before Supreme Court Justice William Donnino and is charged with Grand Larceny in the 2nd Degree (a C felony). The defendant was conditionally released to probation and is due back in court April 28. If convicted of the top count the defendant faces an indeterminate sentence of five to 15 years in prison.
“This defendant was trusted to handle his employer’s accounts but instead he allegedly executed a calculated scheme to steal money and use it for personal expenses,” DA Singas said. “We are committed to prosecuting fraud cases in Nassau County and returning stolen money to victims.”
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 three and a half percent 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.