Former chairman of Long Island autism charity to spend 33 months in federal prison after embezzling nearly $1 million from nonprofit to pay for Broadway tickets, plastic surgery and home down payment Become.
Wafa Abboud, 55, was found guilty Wednesday in Brooklyn federal court after being found guilty of embezzlement, bank fraud and money laundering charges in 2019.
From January 2011 to May 2016, Abboud was Executive Director of Human First. Human First, Inc. has offices in New York City and Long He Island and provides social services to children and young people with autism.
Despite her passionate statements that she claimed her innocence, said her life was ruined, and spoke of her devotion to others, Judge Edward Corman ruled that she should be given a period of custody. Sentencing and handing down the same sentence as the co-defendants who pleaded guilty.in the scheme.
“I lost everything. I lost my friends, my community, my dignity, my reputation and my job,” she said. “I never got a chance to talk about who I was and what I did for people.”
Abboud founded Human First in 2001 and has grown it into a $22 million agency, she says. “This character twist, this is not me,” she insisted. “I didn’t do this. This is just a misunderstanding.”
Corman said she takes into account Abaoud’s lifelong good deeds and volunteer work, and said she is still supporting her youngest son, who is graduating from high school.
Still, he said he felt a prison sentence was appropriate given the nature of the crime and as a general deterrent to others.
“One of the problems with cases like this is that you can’t ask why they did that,” Corman said. “The jury found you guilty. I accept their verdict.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Turner Buford said Mr. Abaoud embezzled for years even though he earned a six-figure salary as executive director.
“It was a crime committed entirely out of choice,” he said.
Abboud conspired with consultant Marcelle Bailey to pay her firm $16,000 a month in fees over the years, prosecutors established during the two-week trial. portion” into an account controlled by Aboud, and used the cash for wire transfers, cosmetic surgery, trips to Disneyland, tickets to the Broadway show Newsies, and visits to luxury spas and luxury hotels. – Finish hair salon.
Bailey pleaded guilty in 2017 and was sentenced to 33 months in prison in 2021.
In another scam, Abboud approved fraudulent construction invoices from co-conspirator Rami Taha. She then got him to give her back her cash, using the $1.3 million down payment on Merrick’s house and using that money to renovate her nine-bedroom mansion.
Taha pleaded guilty to embezzlement in 2019 and is awaiting sentencing.
Abboud also awarded himself an annual salary of $479,000 without telling the charity’s board, prosecutors said.
Abboud will have to turn himself in on Sept. 29, just enough time to see his son graduate from high school.