Wafa Abboud used a system of fronts and kickbacks to funnel corporate funds from her organization into her pocket
The former chief executive of Long Island-based non-profit Human First of Lynbrook, which provides social services for children and young adults with autism, has been indicted on charges she embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars of the charity’s funds to pay for cosmetic surgery, spa treatments, vacations, and the down payment on her $1.3 million Merrick home.
Wafa Abboud, 48, who was paid $480,000 a year to head the nonprofit was charged in a Brooklyn federal court of siphoning over a million dollars to fund a lavish life style.
Officials said Monday, the former executive director of Human First of Lynbrook, moved more than $1.3 million to front companies and then got kickbacks to pay for a $340,000 down payment and a second floor on her Merrick home, and perks that included vacations, jewelry, property taxes, nail salons and spa treatments, $8,000 in cosmetic surgery and a new patio at her $1.5 million home.
Abboud made a down payment on her $1.3m home with corporate funds
Federal prosecutors allege that Abboud, who was fired in May from her post at Human First, Inc. paid off at least $114,000 in credit card debt, using Human First funds.
“My review of Abboud’s personal credit card statements indicates that the credit cards were used by Abboud to make charges of purely personal nature including for cosmetic surgeries, family vacations, clothing, meals, and services at nail salons and spas,” FBI special agent Jason Wake stated in court papers.
Abboud allegedly “funnelled” $170,000 in Human First funds toward the purchase of her Long Island home. Her behaviour was decried by Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Robert Capers who said “Embezzlement of public funds meant to aid individuals with developmental disabilities impacts some of the most vulnerable members of our community.”
Wafa Abboud was charged with conspiracy, embezzlement and bank fraud along with Marcelle Bailey, 49, of Garden City, and Rami Misbah Taha, 39, of the Bronx, who ran companies that allegedly kicked back fees from Human First to Abboud.
Human First COO Marcelle Bailey was also charged with embezzlement, She allegedly took the money Abboud withdrew from the nonprofit and deposited it into multiple bank accounts over a period of five years.
In addition, Bailey and Abboud and Bailey were facing a state tax evasion indictment.
Human First officials issued a statement saying, “Fortunately there has been no adverse impact on our service recipients or on the programs and services we provide.”