Harvard Hillel victim of $780,000 fraud

NEW YORK (JTA) – The Hillel at Harvard University was defrauded of more than $780,000 by its accountant, the school’s newspaper reported.

William O’Brien is accused of stealing the money for personal use while acting as the Hillel’s accountant between 2003 and 2008, according to the Harvard Crimson, which cited the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office in its report.

O’Brien was indicted on 18 counts of larceny and failure to file income tax returns, the daily reported.

Hillel discovered irregularities in 2008 and conducted its own investigation, which revealed the fraud, Harvard Hillel board president Bernard Steinberg wrote in an e-mail to other board members.

“Hillel’s Charles and Lynn Schusterman International Center has been in touch with the leadership of Harvard Hillel and has offered our assistance, and the support of the entire Hillel movement, as they pursue all legal remedies to recover these funds and to see that justice is done,” the president of Hillel International, Wayne Firestone, said in an e-mail circulated to Hillel directors across the country.

“The Hillel movement stands behind Harvard Hillel as it seeks to recover its lost funds and bring the perpetrators to justice,” a Hillel spokesman told JTA. 

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