The Nassau County District Attorney’s office announced that Wantagh man was arrested yesterday for allegedly stealing more than $4.5 million from his mother to fund a lavish lifestyle that included private jets, night clubs, hotels and more.
Samuel Bernstein, 24, of Roslyn, was arraigned today before District Court Judge William Hohauser on a charge of Grand Larceny in the 1st Degree (a B felony) and Aggravated Harassment in the 2nd Degree (an A misdemeanor). Bail was set at $750,000 bond or $650,000 cash and the defendant is due back in court on June 11. An order of protection for the defendant’s mother was also issued. If convicted on the top charge, he faces a maximum sentence of 8-1/3 years to 25 years in prison.
“This defendant is accused of pilfering his mother’s bank account for at least two years and using that money to fly on private jets and buy $100,000 bottles of champagne,” DA Singas said. “The victim set aside this money to support a charitable cause, but because of her son’s alleged actions more than $4.5 million was wasted on extravagant expenses.”
Based on the investigation, the defendant allegedly stole $4.5 million from an account controlled by his mother. The mother, who used the personal account to fund a charity for wheelchair tennis players, became aware of the theft in April 2017.
Bernstein allegedly accessed his mother’s bank account electronically from June 2015 to June 2017 and used the funds to pay off American Express, Capital One and Chase credit cards that belonged to his friends.
The proceeds of the theft were allegedly used to pay for night clubs, hotels, private jets, Super Bowl box seats, rent and a $100,000 bottle of champagne. Bernstein also allegedly used mobile payment services – including Venmo, Paypal, Squareup and Plastiq – to transfer money to various accounts and then obtain cash after the subsequent transfers.
The defendant also allegedly threatened yesterday, via text message, to harm a law enforcement officer’s family member and to destroy his mother’s home.
The defendant was arrested yesterday by NCDA Detective Investigators without incident.
The charges arise from an investigation that was commenced by the New York County District Attorney’s office when the defendant’s mother filed a complaint in Manhattan. The case was referred to the NCDA for geographical jurisdiction reasons and included assistance from the New York City Police Department and U.S. Homeland Security.
Senior Assistant District Attorney Vickie Curran of DA Singas’ Financial Crimes Bureau is prosecuting the case. The defendant was represented at arraignment by the Legal Aid Society.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.