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Dec 11, 2015 3:39 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Former Hampton Bays School Board Member Charged With Looting Scholarship Fund

Warren Booth
Dec 18, 2015 12:26 PM

A former Hampton Bays Board of Education member was arrested last week after police said he stole nearly $55,000 from a scholarship fund that he helped create more than a decade earlier to honor the memory of his best friend, who was killed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Warren Booth III, 51, a lifelong resident of Hampton Bays and a longtime volunteer with the Hampton Bays Fire Department, removed approximately $55,000 from the Arthur J. Jones Scholarship Fund over several years while serving as administrator of the account, according to accusatory documents obtained by The Press.

The same document notes that Mr. Booth, one of two maintenance crew leaders employed by the Hampton Bays Water District, told Southampton Town Police detectives that he stole the money because he was having financial difficulties. Mr. Booth, who is making $63,704.88 annually, was still employed by the water district as of earlier this week.

The scholarship, which benefits Hampton Bays students, was established in 2002 and is named after Mr. Jones, a 1982 graduate of the school district who was killed in the terrorist attacks while working at the World Trade Center. The scholarship fund—which has raised more than $175,000 in Mr. Jones’s name since its creation—is overseen by a nonprofit that is separate from the Hampton Bays School District. Both the names and the number of people who sit on the scholarship committee remained unclear as of earlier this week.

Southampton Town Police Lieutenant Susan Ralph said Wednesday that the department’s detectives were handling the investigation, and they were not immediately available to answer additional questions, such as if they were able to recover any of the funds. Also, it was not clear how Mr. Booth stole the money.

Mr. Booth was arrested last Thursday, December 10, after he was brought in for questioning about the money’s disappearance. Mr. Booth, who lost his bid for a third three-year term on the Board of Education in May, started stealing cash from the scholarship fund in August 2010, when he was already sitting on the Board of Education, according to police.

“I’m shocked and disappointed to hear the news,” Hampton Bays Schools Superintendent Lars Clemensen said when reached on Friday. “But since the school is a benefactor of the scholarship, it’s also important to note that School Board members don’t have direct access to checks or cash. I’m confident that I don’t have to worry for the school district.”

A call placed to Mr. Booth’s cellphone on Friday afternoon immediately went to voicemail and was not returned.

In a 2006 article in The Press marking the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks, Mr. Booth identified himself as Mr. Jones’s best friend, explaining that he established the scholarship fund to honor his friend’s memory. Prior to his arrest, Mr. Booth also organized the Arthur Jones Memorial Scholarship Golf Outing, an annual event that also helped raise money for the fund.

In an email sent on Tuesday, Amy Reid—who would identify herself only as a spokesperson for the fund—said the group was shocked to learn that Mr. Booth has been charged with raiding the fund.

“All of us at the Arthur J. Jones Scholarship Fund were shocked and deeply troubled to learn of the recent allegations against Mr. Booth,” Ms. Reid wrote. “We are presently working with the local authorities who are still trying to assemble the facts.

“We remain determined to honor Art’s memory,” she continued, “and will continue to give back to the community that he loved and called home.”

Mr. Booth was charged with one count of second-degree grand larceny, a felony, authorities said. If convicted, Mr. Booth could face up to between five and 15 years in prison, according to the New York Penal Code.

He was held overnight, arraigned the next morning in Southampton Town Justice Court and released on his own recognizance. He is due to appear in court on May 5, 2016.

In addition to serving six years, from 2009 to 2015, on the Hampton Bays Board of Education, Mr. Booth also spent nearly three decades volunteering with the Hampton Bays Fire Department.

The fund, meanwhile, awards two scholarships each year to members of the Hampton Bays boys and girls basketball teams. Candidates must write essays that are reviewed by the fund’s board, according to Mr. Clemensen. The names of the winners are typically announced each spring.

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Damn Shame!
By MaryGrady (40), on Dec 11, 15 3:52 PM
So since this Hampton Bays, he will get to keep his Fire District position, get to keep his Water Department job and continue to build up his pension. All will be forgiven and the school district is once again proud to have another wonderful role model for our children. This town needs a reality check!
By PeterRav4 (1), hampton bays on Dec 11, 15 4:16 PM
These actions, while shameful (as well as criminal) have nothing to do with the fire department or the school district so there was no reason to mention those organizations at all.
By MrsD (46), Hampton Bays on Dec 11, 15 4:33 PM
I disagree. Unfortunately, this mentality permeates civil service and government and seems to encourage this kind of thieving. His whole life revolves around taking from the public till. For some reason the line between what government and civil service workers feel they are due and thieving is blurred, from faking time sheets to pilfering equipment, to loitering on the clock, which are forms of stealing. I hope the police are checking fire department and HB Water records for signs of thievery such ...more
By Babyboo (265), Hampton Bays on Dec 12, 15 7:44 AM
2 members liked this comment
I have worked for Federal Government and Town of Southampton. This and all you claim are exceptions not the norm. No one praises those of us who work past hours without any compensation to benefit the residents of this town. They only accuses everyone of being lazy, thieving, useless freeloaders. I worked Tax office for over ten years. Often on my own time, to help taxpayers, I would call evenings to reach people who made errors so they wouldn't get penalties. I know many others who have given as ...more
By FurlerFamily (2), Southampton on Dec 12, 15 1:39 PM
2 members liked this comment
Ouch!

Thanks for all you have done for our community. You are aware that what you are saying works for those in the private sector as well as those who don't. Many people work without getting paid for hours. It seems to me that you are being as unnecessarily critical and generalizing just as you say others are. Is that what you teach your children?

I'm sure a quick glance at the news will show more than a few stories of people from all walks of life doing the wrong thing. ...more
By bb (856), Hampton Bays on Dec 12, 15 1:51 PM
I worked private also. My statements did not denigrate private sector. I only pointed out Babyboo was biased towards civil servants but it happens everywhere. It is harder to steal from government because of the inventories done every year. We couldn't even donate out of date equipment to schools or charities without many forms. I teach my autistic son to get to know someone before he makes a judgement about them. I teach him to look at all sides of an action before making his mind about it.
By FurlerFamily (2), Southampton on Dec 12, 15 2:57 PM
I didn't say you did. I stated that this happens everywhere. There is nothing you wrote about Civil employees that isn't true of private sector. There are good honest people in both areas and there are those who abuse and take advantage in both. People
are people.

You may be teaching your child to look on both sides but it doesn't seem as though you are.

"Your remarks, and everyone else who has written similar generalizations, just show your prejudice and ignorance."

Perhaps ...more
By bb (856), Hampton Bays on Dec 12, 15 6:12 PM
I didn't say you did. I stated that this happens everywhere. There is nothing you wrote about Civil employees that isn't true of private sector. There are good honest people in both areas and there are those who abuse and take advantage in both. People
are people.

You may be teaching your child to look on both sides but it doesn't seem as though you are.

"Your remarks, and everyone else who has written similar generalizations, just show your prejudice and ignorance."

Perhaps ...more
By bb (856), Hampton Bays on Dec 12, 15 6:12 PM
With step raises, the ability to bank and cash out on vacation and sick time, longevity pay, generous healthcare, property tax breaks, generous pensions with COLAs, and more, no public employee could do better in the private sector, nor do they work without compensation at any time. I have seen many public employee contracts. They get paid for everything. I also stand by my statement that this kind of largesse, along with the fact that taxpayers are the employer, and there is no one to watch out ...more
By Babyboo (265), Hampton Bays on Dec 13, 15 6:41 AM
1 member liked this comment
Maybe so Mrs.D, but the fire department, school district, and water district may want to do some internal auditing, because a thief is a thief, and this may not be an isolated incident. Clearly this man has no integrity and should not be trusted around taxpayer funded organizations and departments. Certainly if found guilty he should be terminated from all municipal employment.
By Eamonn (17), East Hampton on Dec 11, 15 4:43 PM
Eamonn, I generally agree with you and I am sure that the fire department, school district and water district double-checked their books as soon as the news hit. I simply meant that the article didn't need to mention the fire department or school district because those organizations are not connected to this, but the media always drags fire departments and schools through the mud. I have no connection to either of those organizations and while I am a supporter of the FD, I am no fan of the SD. ...more
By MrsD (46), Hampton Bays on Dec 14, 15 10:08 AM
I feel very bad for the friends and family of Mr. Jones, as well as the community as a whole, who have been betrayed by this act.
By Spread'nTheLove (3), Hampton Bays on Dec 11, 15 5:13 PM
2 members liked this comment
I heard about this story two years ago why did it take so long ago to arrest him? Nothing to do with the fire dept. or school board? Only a true low life would steal from a friend who died in 911. Between teachers, politcians, and cops I can't figure out who are the good guys, and who are the bad guys.
By chief1 (2637), southampton on Dec 11, 15 5:14 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By HB Mom (4), Hampton Bays on Dec 11, 15 9:24 PM
That's a great post!
By Babyboo (265), Hampton Bays on Dec 12, 15 7:45 AM
What? Now I wonder why my Hampton Bays Water District bill is so high...Time to clean house, fire the guy. Truly fed-up with all this b.s.
By giant1 (5), quogue on Dec 11, 15 8:15 PM
Disgusted. I hope the Jones Family knows this will not affect the credibility of the fund, or inhibit giving, but my faith in humanity is being rapidly dissolved.
By Shootingstar (9), Southampton on Dec 11, 15 8:32 PM
2 members liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Lets go mets (342), Southampton on Dec 12, 15 7:51 AM
The guy has always been an arrogant loud mouth jerk. They really need to check the fire dept. as soon as possible. If he steals from a friends memorial fund anything is possible.
It's really too bad Arty was a nice, quiet guy who did the right thing for his family. A true gentleman!
The whole thing is beyond tragic, and disturbing.
By chief1 (2637), southampton on Dec 12, 15 8:12 AM
3 members liked this comment
Your comments are spot on chief1 except for one fact. It wasn't Mr Booth who stole from the account a few years back. It was another current school board member who at the time controlled the account, he took money from the account and wasn't prosecuted because he admitted to it and repaid the money to the fund. School Board should be doing financial and background checks on all candidates before they can run for a position.
By GoodGounder119 (3), Hampton Bays on Dec 12, 15 9:08 AM
2 members liked this comment
not ok....
By Hbays (6), Hampton Bays on Dec 15, 15 3:42 PM
WHY?
By Hbays (6), Hampton Bays on Dec 15, 15 3:46 PM
WHY?

By Hbays (6), Hampton Bays on Dec 15, 15 3:48 PM
Twice the same account was robbed by a board member? Maybe if they prosecuted the first moron the second guy would have thought twice. The problem with these crimes are they are letting them go if they repay the money. I say throw this low life in jail for a year, otherwise he learned nothing.
By chief1 (2637), southampton on Dec 12, 15 11:05 AM
2 members liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By CharlesB, Hampton Bays on Dec 12, 15 11:25 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By sgt202 (74), Hampton Bays on Dec 12, 15 3:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
A very unfortunate turn of events, but we should wait until all the details are in before all the condemning, I have know Warren since he was a kid, if guilty he should face whatever awaits, but no need to drag him through the mud until he is found guilty. Regardless of what people may think of him personally, he has done a lot for this town as a volunteer.
By JB1960 (1), Westhampton Beach on Dec 12, 15 11:16 AM
Unfortunately that is not uncommon. It is often the case that those who volunteer are seduced into taking advantage. Whether it is because they feel entitled, or just because the opportunity is there, it is an old story.

Very sad
By bb (856), Hampton Bays on Dec 12, 15 1:43 PM
2 members liked this comment
Yes a life time reident of Hampton Bays,a term used when the speakere feel he should be heard and believed,,,the rest of us should pay our taxes and be quiey....would you want a peson like the accused to enter your house during a fire.......count the silver.
By watchdog1 (515), Southampton on Dec 13, 15 9:49 AM
LMAO......... Taking 50k from a non profit of a 911 victim who was your friend is not volunteering it is stealing. Where do some of you people get your ethics from? So if I volunteer can I rob people?
People don't fall for this arrogant moron if he is guilty, push for jail time. He held up a foundation without a gun. He stole from people doing good for kids. This is worse to a gas station robbery.
By chief1 (2637), southampton on Dec 13, 15 6:26 PM
It breaks my heart that once again, Hampton Bays Schools is healing a " black eye" because of unprincipled citizens. Let's look at this organization in memory of Art Jones and do the "right thing". Maybe an "outsider" needs to be appointed to the management of the funds that are raised for the scholarships. I don't want to talk about Kevin Springer or Warren Booth, I want to talk about all the citizens of Hampton Bays that have supported this scholarship since it was started. Let's move on, leave ...more
By Hampton Hillbilly (9), Hampton Bays on Dec 12, 15 9:11 PM
1 member liked this comment
Truly shocked and disappointed! I am left thinking no one individual should have access to withdraw from or manage a charity fund. There must be checks and balances to keep supposedly honest people honest. Very sad!
By MikeTerry (4), Hampton Bays, New York on Dec 13, 15 10:17 AM
They should always be checks and balances in any "business". Volunteer or otherwise. I never understand people who are against having two people sign a check or other such safeguards. I don't want the responsibility of the only one signing things!
By bb (856), Hampton Bays on Dec 14, 15 5:50 PM
This article is poorly written. By referencing Mr. Booth's position on the Board of Education and mentioning that the fund is intended to benefit students of the school district, it leaves an impression that this fund was administered by the school district. Although I do not know for sure, I would doubt this is the case because the oversight and audit requirements for public entities would make it next to impossible for such a fraud to continue undetected for three years. If the fund was administered ...more
By Doug Penny (63), Hobe Sound, FL on Dec 13, 15 11:35 AM
3 members liked this comment
Amazing that Doug Penny thinks the newspaper owes the HB school District an apology LOL. How about the school district gives taxpayers an apology for letting a current school board member sit on a board after he admitted looting the same scholarship fund. Why is the guy even on the school board anymore?
Doug do you think an audit shows up illegal accounting, and stealing by a school district? Maybe check the Roslyn School District it took them a decade, and 11.4 million dollars before they ...more
By chief1 (2637), southampton on Dec 13, 15 6:15 PM
2 members liked this comment
He's not on the school board anymore. He lost in last year's election. Mr. Penny's point was that this theft may have been independent of his school board activities but the article makes it seem as though administering the fund was a part of his school board duties. Read before you comment, Chief.
By HB90 (157), southampton on Dec 13, 15 9:17 PM
1 member liked this comment
What truly bothers me is that a current school board member was guilty of misusing those funds before he was on the school board and then was allowed to run for a position. At least the public could have been told somehow. Now a former school board member is accused of doing the same thing. A third former school board member left the board when he pled guilty (at least I believe it was a plea) to stealing from his then-employer.
If the school board is so attractive to this type of person, one ...more
By baywoman (162), southampton on Dec 14, 15 9:30 AM
2 members liked this comment
The article is crystal clear he is an ex board member, and it states it in the first sentence. If anyone thinks that an audit for the booster club, firehouse, or anything else he had his hands on they are delusional.
By chief1 (2637), southampton on Dec 14, 15 9:42 AM
No, I think maybe you, Chief1, are missing the facts. He was a Board Member until May 2015. He had already served two three year terms. That means he became a Board Member in 2009. He is charged with starting to loot the fund in 2010 if I read the article correctly. So it allegedly started and continued while he was a Hampton Bays School Board Member.
By baywoman (162), southampton on Dec 14, 15 10:24 PM
Why isn't Booth charged with Grand Larceny, like Lauren Comber who made off with Rainbow Pre-School monies totalling $35,000? And Baywoman's comment was correct - how come this was known about him and he was allowed to run again for a position on the board without the truth being broadcast? And yes - everything he touched should be audited - the guy is a thief. $65,000 salary would be enough for anyone to manage - unless drugs or other illicit activities are involved like gambling or prostitution ...more
By Vikki K (490), Southampton on Dec 18, 15 2:21 PM
Vikki, Just to clarify. The problem was apparently NOT known about Booth until recently. However it WAS known about someone else prior to that person's election to the school board in 2015.
By baywoman (162), southampton on Dec 19, 15 11:10 AM
Like Terri Gaines in 2007 stealing over $500,000 from Montauk Fire Dept. She had a gambling problem. What is the issue for Booth - drugs or gambling or prostitution solicitation? Where was the oversight for Gaines or for Booth? Don't the banks bear some responsibility here as well?
By Vikki K (490), Southampton on Dec 18, 15 2:34 PM
I think the issue is snack foods
By CaptainSig (702), Dutch Harbor on Dec 18, 15 6:15 PM
1 member liked this comment
I see the Press has changed the article to make it clear he was not acting in an official capacity for the school. Proper editorial action would have been to note the changes.
By Doug Penny (63), Hobe Sound, FL on Dec 19, 15 8:21 AM
nothing will come of this.even the court is not interested. He will be ordered to repay the money and by the time the hearing comes in May nobody will remember this even happened
By typical (63), southampton on Dec 19, 15 6:21 PM
1 member liked this comment
That would be a shame and not a deturent from happening over and over again. Where would he get the money to repay?
By Resident tax (153), Hampton bays ny on Dec 20, 15 11:26 AM
School Board Districts are ELECTED positions, which THE PUBLIC votes on. They are also UNPAID positions, which require enormous time commitments. It's unfortunate that this happened, but it has nothing to do with the integrity of the good people of the Hampton Bays School District as a whole. Most of the people who run and work for this woefully underfunded district--which makes do on the least amount of money on the entire South Fork--are to be commended for their service and commitment to quality ...more
By Hamptons111 (5), Sag Harbor on Dec 21, 15 10:15 AM
Something must be terribly wrong here if you believe the HB School District is "woefully underfunded". The HB taxpayers pay one of the highest, if not the highest, school tax rate in SHT. Our school taxes have gone up over 40% in recent years. However, I believe that the current Board understands their responsibility to the taxpayers as well as the students.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Dec 21, 15 11:22 AM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By mtkfish (59), montauk on Dec 21, 15 10:57 AM
Compare their money-per-student ratio to that of Bridgehampton, Southampton, East Hampton and Westhampton Beach. The only district on the East End that is lower in the $/student is Riverhead.
By Hamptons111 (5), Sag Harbor on Dec 21, 15 12:15 PM
That doesn't make HB "woefully underfunded". Even if you only have 2 students in a class, you have a superintendent, principal, scientist teacher, etc. It should be quality of $$$ spent not quantity. I expect School Board members to be prudent with taxpayer funds.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Dec 21, 15 12:44 PM
1 member liked this comment
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