Officials: Nonprofit Executive Attacked With Drain Cleaner in $750K Theft Cover-Up
The executive director of a New York nonprofit was attacked with caustic liquid in an attempt to cover up a $750,000 embezzlement scheme, a newly unsealed indictment revealed.
Rev. D. Alexandra Dyer, head of Healing Arts Initiative, was walking to her car after work when a man holding a cup of drain cleaner allegedly approached her and flung the liquid at her. The attack left serious burns on Dyer's face and eyes, reported CBS New York.
That was in August. But authorities this week announced they made three arrests in connection with the crime. Among them was Kim Williams, the charity's bookkeeper, who was charged with assault, grand larceny and conspiracy. Authorities said Williams was behind the embezzlement.
The New York Times detailed the circumstances leading to the attack:
Prosecutors said that, starting in 2012, Ms. Williams, 47, created dozens of bank accounts under fake names, where she deposited more than $600,000 for herself and another $150,000 for a friend, Pia Louallen, who was also arrested. The Healing Arts Initiative, previously known as Hospital Audiences Inc., provides education programs and services to connect the arts to people who might be limited by health, age or income. The organization has about a dozen employees and handles about $5 million a year, the authorities said.
In August, the authorities said, Ms. Dyer, who had recently been hired to run the organization, noticed money was missing and called a meeting to discuss it.
Officials said Ms. Williams left the meeting, saying she was feeling ill. Later that day, she bought the drain cleaner, which contained lye, an industrial cleaning solution, officials said.
Williams then directed Jerry Mohammed, a 32-year-old New York man, to attack Dyer, said prosecutors.
According to PIX11, Mohammed has been charged with assault, conspiracy and criminal possession of a weapon, and faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison. Louallen has been charged with grand larceny and conspiracy, and could receive up to 15 years. Williams, who also was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, identity theft and falsifying business records, faces up to 25 years in prison.
Dyer has not yet returned to work.
“This case is troubling on so many different levels,” Richard A. Brown, Queens district attorney, said in a statement. “In an atmosphere of such giving, it is disheartening to see an individual allegedly use her position of fiduciary trust to siphon off tens of thousands of dollars in funds for the personal use of herself and another. More disturbing, perhaps, is the same individual allegedly conspiring with another individual to intentionally seriously injure an innocent victim as part of a cover-up."