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Newsday (New York)

 

Former Sachem High School North head football coach David Falco, an alumnus who returned and led the program to a championship, was arraigned Friday on charges that he filed bogus timesheets to steal funds from the school district he has served for decades, Suffolk County prosecutors said.

Falco, 52, a physical education teacher at the school, was charged with third-degree grand larceny and offering a false instrument, both felonies, and official misconduct, a misdemeanor, according to officials and court records.

He was released on his own recognizance after the arraignment in First District Court in Central Islip, and is due back in court Jan. 31. If convicted, he faces a prison term of 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison.

"Not only was the defendant allegedly stealing funds from the school district by falsifying his timesheets, he was also telling other individuals that compensation for that very same extracurricular work was not available," Suffolk District Attorney Timothy Sini said in a statement. "He used his position to take money from the school and to deny others of their rightful pay."

Prosecutors allege Falco filed as many as eight teacher claim forms to the Sachem Central School District to receive pay for supervising the high school's north weight room between Dec. 11, 2017, and June 12, 2018.

Falco was taken into custody by the Suffolk District Attorney's office on Friday morning. His attorney, John Scott Prudenti, of Center Moriches, said his client committed no crime.

"This is and was consistent with the manner of distributing small stipends to members of the staff which participated in supervision and instruction of the student athletes involved in a very successful program," Prudenti said. "There was no way, no how, that the funds were intended to be used for anything other than the administration of a very successful football program. There was nothing illegal."

Prudenti said the money, $5,755.68, has been repaid.

School district superintendent Kenneth Graham said in a statement that "Mr. Falco has been reassigned to home pending the outcome of the legal process . . . This is an ongoing investigation and the district is continuing to cooperate with law-enforcement authorities."

Falco was the football coach at Sachem North for 15 seasons until his resignation Aug. 15, just days before the start of the season. He also was the school's physical education chairman.

In his resignation letter to Graham, which was obtained by Newsday, Falco wrote, "Please be advised that I am tendering these resignations for personal reasons, and without making any specific or implied admissions of wrongdoing. In fact, I specifically deny same."

Following the resignation, a spokeswoman for the district declined to answer questions about his reference to wrongdoing, saying only that he remained on the school's staff.

Falco is a 1984 graduate of Sachem High and has been at the school since 1996. According to the state Teachers Retirement System, his annual salary was listed as $142,911 for the 2017-18 school year.

As Sachem North's head football coach since 2003, Falco was 82-58 and won the Long Island Championship in 2013.

Falco's father, Anthony, has been on the board of education for most of the past three decades, spending many of those years as its president.

Falco has not returned messages seeking comment since Newsday learned of his resignation in September.

With Joie Tyrrell, Joan Gralla and Jim Baumbach

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December 1, 2018
 
 
 

 

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