Former DM Allegedly Forged Signatures For Higher Pay

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Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with the city’s Department of Investigation (DOI) Commissioner Mark G. Peters, today announced that the former district manager of Community Board 6, which includes Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Red Hook, and Park Slope, was arraigned charges he forged board members’ signatures to give himself raises without approval or authorization.

Former CB 6 District Manager Craig Hammerman. Photo from Twiiter

CB 6 former District Craig Hammerman, 53, of Fort Greene was arraigned before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun and charged with four counts of second-degree forgery, four counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, four counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, four counts of first-degree falsifying business records and one count of third-degree grand larceny.

New York City Community boards are an arm of city government, in which advisory groups of 50 volunteer residents from a set district are given the responsibility to weigh in and give recommendations on land use and zoning, participate in the city budget process, and address service delivery in their district.

While the chair and these resident volunteers are not paid, the city picks up the tab for a district manager, a small staff and office space.

Hammerman’s district manager’s salary was $121,931 when he resigned in October 2017 after 27 years on the job. It was not his first brush with the law as he was arrested on charges he stalked his ex-girlfriend last year. The charges were eventually dropped. He also was a semi-professional poker player and reportedly had a gambling problem.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez

“This defendant allegedly sought to enrich himself with taxpayer money to which he was not entitled. This was a betrayal of the public trust that cannot be tolerated. I remain committed to rooting out crimes such as this that can carry a heavy cost over the long term. We will now seek to hold this defendant accountable,” said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said that according to the investigation, between May 2015 and October 2017, Hammerman allegedly forged the signature of Community Board Chairman Sayar Lonial three times and forged the signature of former Community Board Chairman Gary Reilly one time to give himself unauthorized raises.

CB 6 discovered the alleged forgery during an internal investigation in September 2017, and the matter was referred to the Department of Investigation. A subsequent investigation by DOI and the DA’s office revealed a series of forged letters authorizing salary increases.

A letter dated October 2016, which was sent to the office of the Brooklyn Borough President [Eric Adams], authorized a raise for Hammerman and contained Lonial’s forged signature. A second letter dated March 2017 was sent to the Office of Management and Budget authorizing a salary increase for Hammerman and contained Lonial’s forged signature. This document was accompanied by supporting documentation, referred to as a Planned Action Report, which also contained Lonial’s forged signature. A third letter was discovered, dated May 2015, which authorized a raise for Hammerman and contained the signature of Gary Reilly, who was, at the time, the Chairman of CB 6.

A representative of the Brooklyn Borough President’s office, which processes salary increases for CB 6 employees, calculated that Hammerman received $38,345 in salary that he was not entitled to as a result of his alleged fraud.

“This defendant gave himself multiple raises, including a merit increase, and falsified his manager’s authorization to get them approved by the City, according to the charges. New Yorkers expect – and deserve – public servants serving their communities with integrity that is beyond reproach. DOI will continue to pursue those city workers criminally who take advantage of taxpayers and steal city funds. We thank our partners at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office for their collaboration on this investigation,” said Peters.

Gonzales also thanked Adams’ office for its cooperation in this investigation.

This was not Hammerman’s faces up to seven years in prison if convicted of the top count. He was released without bail and ordered to return to court on August 8, 2018.