Two former school administrators pleaded not guilty Thursday to stealing $3 million in Brooklyn student meals.
Brooklyn federal prosecutors indicted Elozer Porges and Joel Lowry, former administrators at Central United Talmudic Academy, for depriving at-risk students of dinner between 2013 and 2015, according to New York Daily News.
Brooklyn charged Porges and Lowry with mail fraud felony charges, as well as conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud. If convicted, the two former administrators could face a maximum of 20 years in prison.
Kitchen and custodial employees at the academy verified that only breakfast, lunch, and snacks comprised the students’ menu, according to court papers obtained by New York Daily News.
“Any public money that was received by the school was used only for the benefit of students and teachers,” said Henry Mazurek, Porges’ lawyer, to New York Daily News. “Not one cent of public money was used for anyone’s private interests.”
Mazurek called his client, who arranged release on a $500,000 bond during his May arrest, “a dedicated school officer.”
Lowy, who was arrested Thursday but released on a bond of $200,000, is represented by Marc Agnifilo, who told New York Daily News that his client will “fight the charges.” (RELATED: Prof Receives Over $200,000 To Study Microaggressions)
“[Porges and Lowy undermined] a program designed to assist the most vulnerable members of our community,” said Bridget Rohde, Brooklyn’s U.S. attorney, in a U.S. Department of Justice press release obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) was created to provide nutrition assistance to children and adults who are truly in need,” said Bethanne M. Dinkins, special agent-in-charge at the Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, in the press release. “Those involved in fraud and abuse of USDA feeding programs will be investigated by our office to the fullest extent.”
TheDCNF reached out to Mazurek, Agnifilo, and Rohde for comment, but received none in time for publication.
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