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Friday, November 1, 2013

NY - Cemetery scammer repays $1.1 million, sentenced to conditional discharge

Ilana Friedman

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Entrusted to run a Richmond cemetery, a former official siphoned off hundreds of thousands of dollars of bereaving families' payments and other cash to treat her husband and herself to fancy meals, jewelry and Las Vegas entertainment.

But Ilana Friedman is paying the cost for bilking United Hebrew Cemetery -- $1.1 million in restitution, said the office of  state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, which prosecuted the case.

The 52-year-old Brooklyn resident was sentenced Wednesday to a three-year conditional discharge after she and her spouse repaid their financial debt, court documents show.

According to court papers, Mrs. Friedman and her husband, Arthur S. Friedman, operated and controlled United Hebrew Cemetery on Arthur Kill Road starting in the mid-1990s. At various times through September 2011, Friedman, 56, served as superintendent, president and chairman of the board. He also was a paid consultant through June of last year.

Mrs. Friedman variously served as vice superintendent, vice president and treasurer until her removal in September 2011, said court papers. She also was a paid board director.

Between 2006 and 2011, Mrs. Friedman diverted $850,000 in cash from families and monument companies intended for the cemetery, said court papers. She allegedly doctored the cemetery's books to conceal her actions.

The couple also helped themselves to the cemetery's credit cards, charging tens of thousands of dollars' worth of goods and services for their personal use, court documents said.

They spent lavishly: At least $15,000 on jewelry; they bought groceries and electronics at Costco and treated themselves to meals in Manhattan, Florida and Las Vegas, said court records. The Friedmans also charged $9,000 in entertainment fees while in Las Vegas on cemetery-related conferences, court filings said.

In April, Mrs. Friedman pleaded guilty in Stapleton Criminal Court to a felony count of second-degree grand larceny

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