Former N.Y. Jewish cemetery head pleads guilty to embezzling $1.9 million

Julie Wiener

NEW YORK (JTA) — The one-time acting president of a nonprofit Staten Island Jewish cemetery pleaded guilty to embezzling nearly $2 million.

Timothy Griffin, formerly the outside counsel of United Hebrew Cemetery, will be sentenced to 3 to 9 years in prison, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Wednesday.

Griffin became acting president after its previous president and his wife, Arthur and Ilana Friedman of Brooklyn, were found guilty of embezzling approximately $850,000.

While serving as acting president, Griffin made six unauthorized wire transfers from the cemetery’s account to his own attorney escrow account, totaling $1.9 million. Griffin stole the money to cover up his theft of more than $1 million from his legal clients between April 2009 and February 2014, according to a news release issued by Schneiderman.

In 2013, Ilana Friedman was convicted of grand larceny charges and sentenced to five years of probation. She and her husband were banned from working in the funeral or cemetery industry in New York State and paid $1.1 million in restitution.

Arthur Friedman, who has served as the cemetery’s 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.”