Dennis Mosesman and Elsie Mosesman are accused of stealing $771,000 in taxpayer money to fund lavish lifestyle
A couple gorged themselves on more than $750,000 meant for the Gingerbread Learning Center, a Staten Island preschool they operated for kids with learning disabilities, authorities said Tuesday.
School founders Dennis and Elsie Mosesman, of West Long Branch, N.J., were indicted Tuesday on numerous charges, including felony grand larceny.
The couple’s indictment followed a 2016 audit by state Controller Thomas P. DiNapoli that alleged the Mosesmans embezzled $771,000 in taxpayer money to create a $150,000-a-year no-show job for Elsie Mosesman [left], and pay for a lavish lifestyle that included home landscaping, car and insurance payments for two Mercedes Benzes, a Porsche and a Toyota Highlander, flowers and gift cards.
The Mosesmans pleaded not guilty Tuesday to the charges in Supreme Court in Staten Island and were released on their own recognizance. They did not respond to calls for comment.
Gingerbread Learning Center operates two locations in Staten Island with about 100 students. According to its website, the outfit has been in business since 1988.
The school offers state-funded classes and other services to children with disabilities. Gingerbread Learning Center also appears in the city’s 2017 directory of city-funded universal pre-kindergarten providers.
State funding meant for students of the Gingerbread Learning Center [photo], allegedly was converted to personal use by the Mosesmans – funding home landscaping, car and insurance payments for luxury autos, and sundry gifts
Education Department spokesperson Devora Kaye confirmed the programs for city kids at the center will continue, despite the charges the Mosesmans face. She would not discuss the case, but said the department “takes this matter extremely seriously.”
Gingerbread Learning Center, founded in 1988, with two locations in Annadale, and Willowbrook, is a not-for-profit organization that provides full and half-day preschool programs and preschool special education services to children ages 3 through 5 years old.
Gingerbread which served about 145 students was contracted by the New York State Education Department (SED) to provide programs to children throughout Staten Island and neighboring boroughs. During the 2012-2013 school year.
The audit focused primarily on expenses claimed on Gingerbread’s annual budget reports. For the three fiscal years, from 20010 to 2013, DiNapoli’s auditors found $942,998 in reported costs that did not meet the state’s requirements for reimbursement. During that same period, Gingerbread reported approximately $12.2 million in reimbursable costs for its programs.
The audit initially focused on 2012-2013, but “when a pattern of inappropriate expenses was uncovered,” DiNapoli said, the audit was expanded to include earlier claims from 2010-2011 and 2011-2012.
Although SED rules prohibit reimbursement for personal expenses, including gifts of any kind; food, liquor, and holiday parties provided to staff, DiNapoli’s auditors found that Gingerbread put in for and was reimbursed for $15,222 in food purchases for staff; $1,687 for liquor store purchases; $1,124 for staff holiday parties, and $7,693 for gifts, including gift cards