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Queens Chronicle

Nassau busts pastor in Home Depot scam

Queens Village man charged with stealing $111K from foundation

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Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:15 am, Thu Nov 21, 2013.

A Queens Village pastor who has been employed by Home Depot for 22 years has been arrested in Nassau County on charges that he fraudulently received $111,000 from the company’s charitable foundation.

Alfred Williams, 57, was arrested last Thursday by Nassau County police for allegedly taking advantage of Home Depot’s gift-matching program, in which the company matches donations that employees make to charities and other nonprofit organizations.

A statement issued by the office of Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said Williams funneled money from the Home Depot Foundation to Faith Without Walls International Ministries, a registered 501(c)(3) organization, by falsely claiming contributions in the name of more than 40 store co-workers.

Rice’s statement said FWW shares a mailing address with Williams’ home.

“Mr. Williams is charged with stealing over $100,000 by using the good will of a charity foundation and in the name of a religious organization that he used to line his pockets,” Rice said. “The victims of crimes like this are uncountable because it makes it hard for legitimate charities everywhere to raise much-needed funds for good purposes.”

She said a grand jury handed up an indictment in September charging Williams with second-degree grand larceny, attempted second-degree grand larceny, two counts of first-degree identity theft and a single count of second-degree identity theft.

He faces a maximum penalty of five to 15 years if convicted on all charges.

Williams had been a Home Depot employee since 1991, and had worked at the retail giant’s Elmont store on Hempstead Turnpike since 2007.

Rice’s office said between 2009 and 2012, Williams falsely reported that more than 40 of his fellow employees had made donations to FWW. Under the Home Depot Foundation’s 1:1 Gift Matching Program, it would, upon receiving the false information, forward matching donations.

The foundation prohibits donations to organizations run by employees, but Rice said “Williams purposely did not list himself as a contact for FWW.”

Nassau officials said a scam first was suspected in December 2011 when an employee sought to make a donation to a different charity using the gift matching program. The employee was denied, told that she had already donated the maximum amount allowable for the year.

The company launched an internal investigation upon receiving a complaint from the employee.

Company investigators allegedly discovered that there were additional outstanding donation requests in excess of $57,000 that had been made by Williams, but had not been processed and matched.

Home Depot subsequently removed FWW from its approved list, terminated all pending requests for the organization, and turned its findings over to Rice and the Nassau County Police Department’s Crimes Against Property Squad.

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