Bridgehampton Board President Embezzled Funds; Steps Down

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Bridgehampton Board of Education President Nicki Hemby resigned from her post this week, just days after pleading guilty to stealing about $80,000 from a former employer.

Robert Clifford, a spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota’s office, said this week that Ms. Hemby, 41, of 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. She pleaded guilty to a single felony count of grand larceny.

The accusations stemmed from her employment by Suburban Sanitation, a Sag Harbor-based company, for which she served as an office manager between January 2009 and November 2011.

When reached by phone this week, Ms. Hemby admitted that she was a part-time employee at the company and that she had arranged it so she was paid a full-time salary. However, she denied the allegations about credit card use outlined by the D.A.’s office, saying they were not true.

Mr. Clifford, however, said prosecutors alleged that Ms. Hemby used a company credit card for purchases on Amazon.com, tickets to California for herself and her family, and for stays at the Enclave Inn in Bridgehampton, according to statements from the owner of Suburban Sanitation, Ralph Ficorelli. Mr. Clifford also said that the D.A. has financial documents supporting the charges.

The allegations were also confirmed by Edward Burke Jr., the Sag Harbor attorney representing Suburban Sanitation in the case, who said Ms. Hemby was responsible for “personal, non-business expenses” to company accounts.

“First, let [me] say that I am terribly sorry for any and all who have been affected by my poor judgment,” Ms. Hemby wrote in a prepared statement this week. “Please know that the poor choices I have 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,” she continued. “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.”

According to Ms. Hemby, for pleading guilty to the charge, which she did in court on June 25, she will avoid serving any jail time but must pay $80,000 in restitution. Ms. Hemby will also serve 280 hours of community service. In three years, if the payments are made, her record will be expunged.

On Tuesday, Mr. Burke said his client was happy with the outcome of the investigation, noting that the company would be happy to receive the restitution.

“My client is very pleased with how the investigation was done,” Mr. Burke said. “It was a very thorough investigation with a favorable result for my client.”

When asked if his client was upset that Ms. Hemby would not serve any jail time, Mr. Burke said both he and his client were satisfied with the way the investigation was carried out, and would leave punishment up to the D.A.’s office.

This week, Bridgehampton School District officials confirmed that Ms. Hemby did resign, but cited “health and personal reasons” for the decision. Ms. Hemby, who is also currently seeking treatment for both ovarian and renal cancer, was first elected to the board in 2008 and was reelected in 2011. She had one year left on her term and has served as president for the past three years.

“She has indicated that she is resigning from the board due to health and personal reasons, effective immediately,” Dr. Lois Favre, district superintendent wrote in an email this week. “She has served the community well in her capacity as trustee, vice president, and as president of the board.”

This week, Dr. Favre said the board would meet in executive session on Wednesday before a scheduled organizational meeting to discuss options for replacing Ms. Hemby and whether a special election would need to be held. This week, Dr. Favre said she wished Ms. Hemby the best and thanked her for her service to the district.

“I wish her well as she puts her attention on her health, and her family—where it needs to be at this time,” she said.

Ms. Hemby is also a co-owner of Macaroni Kid, a digital hub that promotes family time and offers a rundown for parents of what to do on the weekends. The website has garnered international success, with local Macaroni Kid websites sprouting up in communities across the nation and around the globe.

On Wednesday, Ms. Hemby confirmed that she has stepped down from her position as partner in Macaroni Kids. She added that her criminal case was completely unrelated to the organization, and should have no impact on the status of the future of the company.

“I have all intentions of doing what is right,” Ms. Hemby said when reached by phone this week. “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.

“I love this community,” she added. “And I’m sorry for any and all who were affected by my shortcomings.”

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