School District Official Gets 2 to 6 Years In Prison

The former assistant superintendent for business for the William Floyd School District was sentenced in Suffolk County court to serve two to six years behind bars for stealing money from the district and from the state retirement fund.

Daniel Cifonelli, 72, pleaded guilty last year to four counts of grand larceny in the second degree, four counts of money laundering and one charge of third degree grand larceny. Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota recommended a four to 12 year prison term for Cifonelli, whose state sentence will run concurrently with a federal prison term he received last month.

Cifonelli, of Port Jefferson Station, has been serving a federal sentence in Massachusetts since January 18 after pleading guilty to income tax evasion.

“Mr. Cifonelli drained school district insurance accounts of over $240,000 thousand dollars of taxpayer money by simply transferring school district money to his personal bank accounts, and he collected $444,000 in pension benefits from 1998 until 2001 while working illegally for the William Floyd district as a consultant, a practice known as “double-dipping”,” Spota said. Following Cifonelli’s arrest in 2005, the district attorney blamed the school board and administrators having a system “plagued by fraud, theft and abuse”, leaving taxpayers “without the basic safeguards necessary to prevent thievery”.

Cifonelli’s co-defendant James Wright, the former William Floyd treasurer, is awaiting sentencing on charges of second degree grand larceny and offering a false instrument for filing charges.  Wright, 58, of Bohemia, pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny for stealing school district funds from April 4, 2000 until January 24, 2003. Wright has cooperated with investigators since his arrest 2004 to satisfy the requirements of State Supreme Court Justice Robert W. Doyle’s sentence of two to six years’ imprisonment.

As the treasurer of the school district, Wright stole $777,145 by writing checks from district funds payable to himself.


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