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DA: Long Island woman pleads guilty to stealing $180K from charity

Marie Augustin, 42, pleaded guilty Tuesday to third-degree grand larceny and first-degree identity theft, prosecutors said.
Photo Credit: Nassau County District Attorney

A Long Island woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to a felony larceny charge and will spend the next 18 months in jail after admitting she stole someone’s identity in order to siphon more than $180,000 by cashing stolen checks from a charity, Nassau County prosecutors said.

Marie Augustin, 42, pleaded guilty to third-degree grand larceny and first-degree identity theft. She is expected to be sentenced in September to two consecutive terms of nine months in jail and will need to repay $180,577.48 to the charity, the Jewish National Fund. Augustin will also be ordered to pay $400 back to the person whose identity she stole.

Last February, Augustin opened several business bank accounts using the names of the charity group’s vendors so she could cash the checks that had been stolen from the Jewish National Fund. Prosecutors said she used a fake driver’s license in the victim’s name in order to open the account and then made numerous large-scale deposits into the accounts. Police said she was able to withdraw more than $45,000 before she was arrested. According to police, she was arrested last March when she tried to withdraw $19,000, but was told that withdrawals over $10,000 need to be reported to federal authorities.

Prosecutors said the identity theft occurred as a separate crime but that Augustin had used the stolen identity as part of the charity theft as well. They say Augustin told bank employees that her debit card had gone missing and then presented the phony identification in order to obtain a news card. The identity theft victim reported numerous “unauthorized transactions” in her bank account, which totaled about $5,100.

“It is shameful that someone would steal thousands of dollars meant to help fulfill a non-profit’s charitable mission by stealing the identity of an innocent victim,” Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a statement. A spokesman for the Jewish National Foundation did not respond to an e-mail requesting comment for this story. Augustin was represented by an attorney with the Nassau Legal Aid Society, which maintains a policy of not commenting on individual cases.