Bridgehampton Board of Education President Nicki Hemby has resigned from her post on the seven-member board, just days after pleading guilty to a felony count of grand larceny in connection with $80,000 stolen from a former employer over a two-year period.
Robert Clifford, a spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota’s office, said Ms. Hemby, 41, who lives in Bridgehampton, used corporate credit cards for personal expenses—including plane tickets, rental cars and online purchases—and authorized pay raises for herself without company consent. The accusations stemmed from her employment by Suburban Sanitation, a Sag Harbor-based company, between January 2009 and November 2011.
According to court documents, she entered the guilty plea on June 25.
This week, the school district confirmed that Ms. Hemby did resign, citing only “health and personal reasons” for the decision. Ms. Hemby is also battling cancer.
According to Dr. Lois Favre, district superintendent, Ms. Hemby submitted a letter of resignation to the district this week. She first joined the board in 2008 and was reelected in 2011, had one year left on her current term, and has served as president for the past two years.
“She has indicated that she is resigning from the board due to health and personal reasons, effective immediately,” Dr. Favre wrote. “She has served the community well in her capacity as trustee, vice president, and as president of the board. I wish her well as she puts her attention on her health, and her family—where it needs to be at this time.”
Ms. Hemby provided an emailed statement on Monday evening: “First, let [me] say that I am terribly sorry for any and all who have been affected by my poor judgment. Please know that the poor choices I made years ago have no reflection on the school district, work and/or my family. I have served this community with my whole heart and soul and have all intentions on making things right to the best of my ability and more. I would ask that people within the community take my children into consideration, as this is a sensitive matter of which they were unaware until this evening. They have been model citizens and students of our community.”
Reached by phone, Ms. Hemby admitted that over three years she arranged it so that she was paid a full-time salary while doing part-time work, although she challenged the other allegations outlined by the D.A.’s office regarding embezzled funds, saying they weren’t true.
She said that, following the guilty plea, an agreement with the D.A.’s office will allow her to avoid jail time by paying restitution in full totaling $80,000. In three years, if the payments are made, her record will be expunged according to the deal, she said.
She said the decision to step down from the Bridgehampton School Board was twofold, related both to the charges and to her ongoing battle with ovarian and renal cancer, for which she is still undergoing treatments that began about a year ago.
“I have all intentions of doing what is right. I will not hide from my mistakes, and I fully intend to make good and to make full restitution on my poor choices. I will not hide from them. I will not make excuses for them. But I will say that, in everything, if anything good can come out of this, it will be that I can show my children that when they make a mistake, you own up to it, and you face it head-on, and you make it right.”
She added, “I love this community, and I’m sorry for any and all who were affected by my shortcomings.”