By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
A top administrator of a New York Jewish day school was charged Monday with grand larceny and money-laundering for embezzling $8.4 million over a period of some eight years.
David Ostrove, 51, was the chief financial officer and director of operations at the Schechter School of Long Island. He allegedly started his alleged criminal activity about three years into his tenure.
“As alleged in the indictment, this defendant was trusted to oversee and safeguard the funds of this institution, however, he violated that trust and instead stole money earmarked to educate children to fund his own lavish lifestyle,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney in a statement.
That lifestyle included buying four rare luxury cars and other collectibles, five homes on the glamorous Fire Island, clothing, jewelry and trips. He also allegedly used the school’s money to pay for his daughter’s college education and refurbish the houses, which he then rented out for a handsome income.
Ostrove allegedly stole the money via his computer, moving cash from the school’s Paypal and Stripe accounts into several different bank accounts.
“This individual is accused of a systematic, sophisticated, and carefully contrived fraud on a chilling scale,” the school told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA). “If convicted, this individual would also be guilty of something beyond the theft of cash: the destruction of trust.”
In a Facebook statement Tuesday announcing his firing, the school thanked the detectives and staff of the District Attorney’s Office who had opened the probe and “treated the school with the utmost respect and professionalism” as they cooperated in the investigation of the financial irregularities.
The school’s board also reassured parents in a letter that the institution was still “financially sound” – and had already hired an outside accounting company to ensure that going forward, “our changes are effective, systematic, and reflect ‘best practices’ in a digital era,” JTA reported.
The Schechter School, which has some 260 students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, is a private school affiliated with the Conservative Movement and provides both a Jewish and secular education. According to school-ranking website niche.com, it slots in at No. 77 of 249 College Prep private high schools in the state.
If convicted, Ostrove could face 25 years in prison.