The Cobble Hill PTA treasurer who stole more than $82,000 from her fellow school parents — then nearly landed in jail when she claimed she couldn’t pay back the money — escaped the big house on Tuesday after handing over $50,000 and agreeing to a payment schedule for the rest.
A wan and teary-eyed Providence Hogan capped an eight-month drama that riveted Brownstone Brooklyn by handing over the $50,000 check to PS 29 PTA co-president Maura Sheehy, fulfilling the first part of a restitution agreement that will now require her to make quarterly payments of $4,000 each for the next two years.
Supreme Court Judge Suzanne Mondo warned the former PTA mom and Atlantic Avenue day spa owner that those checks had better come in on time.
“If you fail to make one payment, I will order a warrant for your arrest, and when you are brought in, you will be incarcerated,” Mondo said, threatening a six-year sentence if Hogan reneged on the deal. “I an not going to accept any excuses for your failure to make a payment.”
Hogan agreed, then choked back tears as she apologized to all the school parents who “put their trust in me.”
“For three years, my responsibility and my duty was to make sure that the money raised by PS 29 went to the children,” she told a half dozen school parents in the gallery. “I failed to do that. What I did was obviously criminal and my actions were morally reprehensible and spiritually bereft.
“I know that simply asking for forgiveness does not mean that I will get your forgiveness,” added Hogan, whose descent into the criminal justice system began in March with her arrest for embezzlement. “Once [restitution is made], it will be up to you to decide whether you forgive me or not.”
A handful of PTA parents cried openly when Hogan made her mea culpa, but none were willing to forgive her right away.
“I can’t react to that right now,” former PS 29 parent Pat Gilas said. “We are very much looking forward to moving on and turning this experience into something positive.”
PTA co-president Stephanie Manske concurred.
“We’re grateful that restitution was involved in the plea deal,” she said. “With city budget cuts, it’s necessary that this money is replaced.”
As treasurer between 2008 and 2010, Hogan had unfettered access to the Henry Street school’s PTA checkbook, and cut checks to herself for fertility treatments and rent on her home and her Providence Day Spa.
At first, District Attorney Charles Hynes allowed Hogan to avoid prison with a sweetheart deal: no jail if she paid back everything she stole.
But Hogan never came up with the first payment of $40,000. Her lawyer Stephen Flamhaft tried to work out a deal for Hogan to pay $30,000 up front and the rest over four years, but Hynes balked and threatened to take Hogan to trial if she didn’t return the money.
Hogan claimed she was destitute — and said she would rather go to jail than return money that she said she did not have.
“If the school thinks they can get the money [stolen], they’re wrong,” Hogan told reporters after an October court appearance. “I might as well go to jail for as long as possible. That would be nothing to what I’m enduring now. [To me] this ordeal has been jail.”
But weeks later, Flamhaft met with Mondo and asked for some leniency.
The lawyer also explained how Hogan came up with the $50,000 for Tuesday’s payment when she had long insisted that she didn’t even have $40,000.
Flamhaft said an acquaintance of Hogan’s bought a sizable portion of her spa business, though he wouldn’t name the investor. She also received donations from neighbors and congregants from Congregation B’nai Avraham in Brooklyn Heights after the New York Times wrote a sympathetic portrait of the thieving mom.
Besides giving Hogan probation, Mondo lifted an order of protection that barred Hogan from interacting with PS 29 PTA members. Hogan’s daughter is still enrolled in the school.
“She was allowed to go to the school because her child was there, but she couldn’t really talk to anyone or attend meetings,” Flamhaft said. “Now she could feel free to do so.”
©2011 Community News Group
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