As Pamela Gluckin, the former Roslyn School District employee was being arrested and charged with grand larceny, the offices of State Comptroller Alan Hevesi announced that they will initiate their own audit of the district's finances.
"We have determined that there is a need for us to look at what occurred in Roslyn in order to address widespread public concerns, establish that the school district has systems in place to prevent such problems from recurring, and ensure that this situation does not have a negative impact on the community's schoolchildren," Hevesi said in a statement released by his office.
"The school board has just severed ties with its auditing firm and its legal advisors," the statement continued. "Local taxpayers are increasingly confused about the entire matter and troubled by indications that the alleged malfeasance of the individual involved may be far worse than was initially revealed."
Hevesi added that his staff has been in close contact with the office of Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon, which is already investigating the matter. Dillon's office, Hevesi said, has indicated that it will cooperate with auditors from the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC).
In addition, auditors from the OSC's Local Government Services and Economic Development division will coordinate their efforts with personnel from the Comptroller's Division of Investigations and from the district attorney's office, Hevesi added.
According to published reports, Hevesi became interested in auditing the Roslyn budget once he learned that the district had let go of its own two auditing firms.
As reported in last week's issue of The Roslyn News, the Nassau County District Attorney's office has launched an investigation that will extend "into all aspects" of the school district. According to Peter J. Mancuso, an assistant Nassau County district attorney, that may also include members of Ms. Gluckin's family.
Prior to the May 18 school budget vote, rumors circulated around the Roslyn community that more than $1 million might have been embezzled from the school budget. The rumors were so prevalent that school officials felt embolden to state that the $1 million total was, to their knowledge, the best estimate of the theft.
However, school officials also admitted that the district attorney's investigation had not yet determined the exact amount of embezzled funds. On the eve of Ms. Gluckin's arrest, more rumors were in motion with one published report claiming that up to $7.8 million of "suspicious expenditures" may be under investigation.
When the embezzlement was discovered in 2002, school officials, under the advice of legal counsel, decided not to reveal the scandal to the public. Once the theft became public, the amount of stolen monies was initially listed at $250,000, a number that was later raised to $1 million.
In addition to having Dr. Frank A. Tassone relieved of his duties as district superintendent, recent events have caused other major shakeups throughout the school district.
On May 18, Karen Bodner, the only incumbent on the school board running for re-election, was defeated in her bid to serve another three-year term. At the May 26 meeting, it was announced that Michael Barkan, the board's vice president, had resigned. Stanley Stern, the top vote-getter in the May 18 election, will replace Barkan. Stern will serve in that capacity until he is sworn in for his term on the school board on July 13.
In addition, the school board had decided to terminate their relationships with various auditing and legal firms that had previously served the district. The board will no longer retain the internal auditing firm of RS Abrams and Company, the external firm of Miller, Lilley and Pearce and the law firm of Jaspan, Schlesinger, and Hoffman.
Once the law firm was let go by the district, their attorneys told media outlets that they had advised district officials to go public with the scandal back in 2002. In addition, those same attorneys said that they refused to draft a written opinion on the entire matter for school board members.
Meanwhile, Ms. Gluckin, at her arraignment in the First District Court in Hempstead, pleaded not guilty to charges of grand larceny, a crime that carries a maximum jail term of 25 years. She was released on $25,000 bond and was also forced to surrender her passport. Ms. Gluckin's next court date will be Tuesday, July 13.
Published reports listed some of Ms. Gluckin's holdings that by now are familiar to local residents, including the three homes on Long Island and one in Florida, plus the Lexus and Jaguar luxury automobiles. Reports also cited prosecutors who hinted that investigations might go back as far as 1990, when Ms. Gluckin worked as a bookkeeper for the district.