A pastor from Queens will spend the next five years on probation after admitting to using his position in a religious charity and his job at a Home Depot store in Elmont to allegedly steal more than $100,000, Nassau County prosecutors said Thursday.
Alfred Williams, 57, was sentenced Thursday to five years of probation and was ordered to repay $17,500 after pleading guilty to a grand larceny charge and admitting to trying to pocket more than $111,000 by falsely reporting donations allegedly made by his co-workers at Home Depot to the company’s one-to-one charitable matching program. Prosecutors said Williams falsely reported to the organization that 40 fellow employees had donated to his religious group.
The program, administered by the Home Depot Foundation, matches employee donations to registered nonprofits on a dollar-to-dollar scale up to $3,000 per year. Prosecutors said Williams registered his Queens Village-based nonprofit religious organization, Faith Without Walls International Ministries, but hid his association with the group because the program does not allow charities run by employees to receive funds. He then allegedly falsely reported to the foundation that 40 fellow employees had donated to his religious group. The foundation sent matching funds as a donation to Williams’ charity, which he then allegedly used for personal purchases, the DA said.
“Employee marching programs are an important source of funding for nonprofits, and abuse of those programs puts the vital services provided by legitimate charities and religious organizations at risk,” Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said. “With this sentence, the defendant will be held accountable for diverting money that should have gone to help fund organizations looking to improve the lives of others.”
The alleged scam was uncovered in 2011 when an employee tried to make a donation to a different organization using the gift-matching program and was denied. The company had told her she reached the maximum allowable donations for the year and she filed a complaint, which triggered an internal investigation, prosecutors said. The company then withheld tens of thousands of dollars in pending donations and notified law enforcement.