MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that a New York City property manager was sentenced today to one to three years in prison for stealing more than $327,000 from the owners of a commercial shopping mall in Hewlett. The defendant must also pay restitution in the amount of $163,636.90 by civil judgement.
Leon Austern, 71, pleaded guilty on September 8, 2017 before Supreme Court Justice William Donnino to Grand Larceny in the 2nd Degree (a C felony). The defendant was sentenced today by Judge Felice Muraca to one to three years in prison.
“This defendant stole from innocent business owners and used the money to pay for his daily expenses,” DA Singas said. “With all the pressures on small business owners, the last thing they should worry is having employees and contractors stealing from them. My office remains committed to prosecuting fraud cases and returning stolen money to victims.”
DA Singas said that Austern was the manager of a strip mall shopping center located in Hewlett with five commercial tenants owned by Harbro Realty Co., LLC. From May 3, 2010, to December 18, 2012, Austern embezzled a net amount of $327,273.80 from Harbro by diverting checks drawn by Harbro’s tenants for rent and taxes to two bank accounts that he created in the name of Harbro. The accounts were opened secretly without the permission of the company. For his services, Austern was entitled to receive three and a half percent of the gross rents collected from its tenants.
Austern spent the stolen money to pay for personal expenses including loan payments, insurance, legal fees, investments, restaurants, health-related products, food, beverages, gasoline, household appliances, pool maintenance, utilities and storage fees.
The NCDA received the case in August of 2014 after a member of the LLC opened a complaint. The defendant was arrested by NCDA investigators in August 2016.
Assistant District Attorney Peter Mancuso, Deputy Chief of DA Singas’ Financial Crimes Bureau, prosecuted the case. Austern is represented by William J. Kephart, Esq.