N.Y. cemetery embezzler pays restitution, gets five years’ probation

NEW YORK (JTA) — A woman who pleaded guilty to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from a New York Jewish cemetery paid $1.1 million in restitution as part of a civil settlement agreement and was sentenced to five years’ probation.

Ilana Friedman, a paid board member who with her husband, Arthur, operated and controlled the nonprofit United Hebrew Cemetery on Staten Island for nearly two decades, pleaded guilty in April to a felony count of second-degree grand larceny. The sentence was handed down last week.

Arthur Friedman, who at different times served as superintendent, president and board chairman, was not criminally charged, but court papers said he “failed to exercise proper oversight” and “failed to implement adequate internal controls.”

In addition to diverting $850,000 in cash from the cemetery, Friedman, 52, and her husband, 56, charged tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of goods and services for their personal use on the cemetery’s credit cards. In 2010, the last full year both were on the cemetery payroll, the Friedmans collectively drew more than $540,000 in salaries, according to tax forms.

The Friedmans, who own homes in Brooklyn and Florida, are now barred from working in the funeral and cemetery industries in New York State. Friedman’s probation requires her to “lead a law-abiding life, find suitable employment and avoid disreputable persons,” according to the Staten Island Advance newspaper.

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman prosecuted the case in response to a referral from the state Division of Cemeteries.

NEXT STORY