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N.Y. woman admits to $180K theft involving Jewish National Fund

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NEW YORK (JTA) — A suburban New York woman admitted to stealing another person’s identity in order to cash more than $180,000 in checks from the Jewish National Fund.

Marie Augustin, 42, of Westbury, Long Island, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Nassau County Court to third-degree larceny and first-degree identity theft, The Associated Press reported.

Prosecutors said Augustin used a fake driver’s license in another person’s name and opened several bank accounts in the names of companies contracting with the Israel charity in order to cash checks stolen from the group’s office in Rockville Centre, L.I.

The losses were sustained by the bank, not JNF, a spokesman for the charity told JTA.

Augustin first came to the attention of authorities when she deposited a stolen check for $71,239.24 and then tried to withdraw the cash from the account.

She deposited two other large checks into other fake accounts, according to the Nassau County District Attorney.

The identity theft victim had no ties to the JNF, the district attorney said, according to the Long Beach Patch.

Augustin is expected to be sentenced on Sept. 29 to two consecutive terms of nine months in jail and required to pay $180,577.48 in restitution.

Founded in 1901, JNF plants trees, develops land and invests in a variety of infrastructure in Israel. It has raised over $5 million this summer to provide bomb shelters, fire engines and other emergency supplies for Israelis.

(An earlier version of this article erroneously indicated that Augustin stole funds directly from the JNF and would be paying restitution to it. In fact, all the losses were sustained by the bank.)

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