Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the sentencing of JEFFREY BERNSTEIN, 62, to 3 1/3-to-10 years in state prison for stealing more than $2.5 million from the Albert Ellis Institute (“AEI”). BERNSTEIN pleaded guilty on September 24, 2012 to the top count of the indictment, Grand Larceny in the First Degree. The defendant signed a confession of judgment and a judgment order of restitution for $2.5 million was entered in favor of the Albert Ellis Institute.
“‘Follow the money’ is a familiar saying in law enforcement,” said District Attorney Vance. “In this case, we followed the money through numerous accounts, all of which led back to the defendant. The financial well-being of non-profits depends on earning the trust of donors to support the goals and missions of the organization. Those who violate that trust not only harm themselves, they harm the entire organization. I urge all nonprofit organizations to re-double their efforts to detect fraud, and report it by calling my Office’s Complaint Hotline at 212-335-8900.”
BERNSTEIN was the former Director of Administration for AEI, a non-profit psychotherapy institute located at 45 East 65th Street in Manhattan. Founded in the 1950’s, AEI supports research, provides continuing education for mental health professionals, and offers self-help workshops and affordable psychotherapy for the public. BERNSTEIN began serving as President of AEI’s Board of Trustees in 2006, and was appointed Director of Administration in January 2010. As Director of Administration, BERNSTEIN was responsible for, among other things, overseeing AEI’s finances and managing its bank accounts.
According to BERNSTEIN’S guilty plea, between January 2010 and February 2011, the defendant stole more than $2.5 million from AEI by making nearly 80 unauthorized wire transfers to three business accounts that he controlled: Consolidated Services, Inc., Two Bros, LLC, and Asset Resources Inc.
Upon depositing the stolen money into these accounts, BERNSTEIN immediately transferred it to other business accounts that he also controlled. Once funneled into this web of accounts, the stolen money was either withdrawn as cash or used to pay both business expenses and personal expenditures. The expenditures included loan repayments, payments to family members, legal and accounting fees, credit card bills, car expenses, insurance, and condo fees.
Assistant District Attorney Gloria Garcia prosecuted this case, under the supervision of Special Prosecutions Bureau Chief Thomas Wornom and Deputy Bureau Chiefs Judy Salwen and Archana Rao. Financial Investigator Michelle Burgos of the District Attorney’s Forensic Accounting and Financial Investigations Bureau assisted in the investigation. Investigator Keith Christensen of the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau assisted in the arrest of the defendant, under the supervision of Senior Investigator Santiago Batista.
JEFFREY BERNSTEIN, D.O.B. 1/22/1950
New York, NY
• Grand Larceny in the First Degree, a class B felony, 1 count
• 3 1/3 to 10 years in state prison
• Judgment Order of Restitution for $2.5 million