Educators normally aren’t the kinds of people who steal hundreds of thousands of dollars. Frank Gluberman is the exception to the rule. On August 13, Gluberman, formerly teacher and then assistant principal at Woodlands High School in Greenburgh, N.Y., pleaded guilty in Westchester County Criminal Court to embezzling nearly $800,000 over a seven-year period from his union, the Greenburgh Teachers’ Federation (GTF), an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. Gluberman had been arrested this past January in the wake of an internal union audit and subsequent U.S. Department of Labor investigation. He faces up to 15 years in prison at sentencing in December, though the plea agreement calls for a one-to-three year sentence upon full payment of restitution.
Greenburgh is an affluent community with a population of nearly 90,000 located in the western part of Westchester County, N.Y., north of New York City and New Jersey. Consisting of several villages and unincorporated areas, its public school system is a major reason why many families have moved there over the years. Frank Gluberman, now 67, a resident of nearby Rockland County, N.Y., may have been a good educator, but on some level he felt entitled to extra pay at the expense of his colleagues. According to prosecutors, Gluberman, during 2006-13, most of which time he served as treasurer of both the Greenburgh Teachers’ Federation and the Greenburgh Teachers’ Welfare Fund, wrote unauthorized checks to himself from the union funds totaling $794,865. He accomplished this by forging the signature of Federation President Judie Mirra, as he needed two signatures to disburse payments. He routed the money to his own bank account and those of his two daughters. Gluberman used most of his take to make mortgage payments on his primary residence and property taxes on his two other homes, also located in Rockland County.
The evidence of the pattern of theft first came to light two years ago. In September 2012, Gluberman was promoted to assistant principal of Woodlands High. As such, he had to relinquish his positions as a union official. Following his departure, the union conducted audits of its general and benefit funds, finding unexplained discrepancies in each case. It contacted the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and local authorities to request a full probe. The investigation concluded Gluberman, whose annual salary as of the fall of 2013 slightly exceeded $125,000, had stolen the money. He was arrested in January of this year. Given that the proceeds from property seizures should cover the losses, authorities are confident Gluberman will pay full restitution on sentencing day. GTF President Mirra has announced that her union has put into place “stronger internal controls to ensure nothing like this can never occur again.” Around 360 members are feeling relief.