Head of Staten Island's United Hebrew Cemetery Charged With $2M Theft

Predecessor's Wife Pleaded Guilty to Similar Charges in 2013

Fool Me Twice: Timothy Griffin, acting president of United Hebrew Cemetery was charged with stealing $2 million.
Courtesy of New York State Attorney General
Fool Me Twice: Timothy Griffin, acting president of United Hebrew Cemetery was charged with stealing $2 million.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published February 10, 2014.
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Something stinks on Staten Island.

Law enforcement officials have charged the acting president of a Staten Island Jewish cemetery of embezzling $2 million — less than a year after his predecessor’s wife admitted to stealing over $1 million from the same cemetery.

Timothy Griffin was arrested February 10 on charges of felony grand larceny. He faces up to 25 years in prison for allegedly bilking $2 million from Staten Island’s United Hebrew Cemetery. Former United Hebrew director Ilana Friedman pleaded guilty in April 2013 to robbing from the cemetery while her husband Arthur Friedman served as president.

Ilana Friedman was not jailed, though she agreed to pay $1.1 million in restitution. Arthur Friedman did not face criminal charges. Both Friedmans are barred from ever again working in the cemetery business.

Griffin was United Hebrew’s attorney before the cemetery tapped him as acting president following Ilana Friedman’s indictment. The New York State Attorney General’s office alleges that Griffin used his position to move United Hebrew funds into an account he controlled.

The indictment, filed in Richmond County Supreme Court, charges Griffin with one count of grand larceny in the first degree and six counts of grand larceny in the second degree. Griffin’s defense attorney told the Forward that he had no comment. A message left for United Hebrew was not returned, nor was one left with a United Hebrew board member.

United Hebrew had assets of $21 million and liabilities of $11 million at the end of its 2012 calendar year, according to its most recent filing with the IRS. The organization did not report paying Griffin any compensation in 2012.

The Staten Island cemetery is located at 122 Arthur Kill Road. It adjoins another Jewish cemetery owned by the Hebrew Free Burial Association.


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