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May 11, 2016 11:23 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Former Hampton Bays School Board Member Pleads Guilty For Looting Scholarship Fund

Warren Booth heads into criminal court in Riverhead on Friday morning.  DANA SHAW
May 18, 2016 12:56 PM

A former Hampton Bays Board of Education member pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree grand larceny, a felony, for stealing 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, a lifelong resident of Hampton Bays who is employed by the Hampton Bays Water District, took a plea deal on Friday when he was called to the stand at Suffolk County Criminal Court in Riverhead just before 11:40 a.m. by Judge Stephen Braslow. During the proceeding, Mr. Booth admitted to stealing the funds from his friend’s 9/11 scholarship account over several years.

Mr. Booth, who lost his bid for a third three-year term on the Board of Education in May 2015, started stealing cash from the scholarship fund in August 2010, while he was an active member of the board, according to authorities. What Mr. Booth did with the money was never discussed or disclosed in court, and he declined to be interviewed after accepting the plea deal.

Mr. Booth removed approximately $55,000 from the Arthur J. Jones Scholarship Fund, which is not controlled by the school district, over several years while serving as administrator of the account, according to accusatory documents obtained by The Press at the time of his arrest in December. 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.

As part of his plea deal, Mr. Booth must repay the nearly $55,000 he had stolen from the Arthur J. Jones Scholarship Fund, and also complete 840 hours of community service. He will remain on probation for a year as well.

The terms of his community service have not yet been decided. Mr. Booth is a volunteer with the Hampton Bays Fire Department.

If he lives up to the requirements of the plea deal, and stays out trouble with the law, the felony charge is expected to be knocked down to a misdemeanor, according to Mr. Booth’s attorney, James F. Vlahadamis, a founding partner at Vlahadamis and Hillen LLP in Hampton Bays. Hon. Braslow also said in court that the charge could be lowered to a misdemeanor if he complies with his probation.

By accepting the deal, Mr. Booth waived both his right to a grand jury and his right to appeal the case.

Mr. Booth is not expected to face any jail time.

Under most circumstances an individual convicted of second-degree grand larceny, a felony, could face up to between five and 15 years in prison, according to the New York Penal Code.

Mr. Booth, who is now making approximately $65,000 annually, was still employed by the water district as of earlier this week.

Sandra Cirincione, the director of human resources for Southampton Town, explained this week that since Mr. Booth is part of a union—Southampton Town Civil Service Employees Association Unit 8756, Suffolk County Local 852—he cannot be fired for pleading guilty to a crime, even a felony. He could, however, be put up for disciplinary review at the request of the Southampton Town Board, but, as of earlier this week, Ms. Cirincione said had not received instructions to do so.

When reached on Tuesday afternoon, Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman declined to comment on Mr. Booth’s employment, stating that he still needs to discuss the situation with Russell Kratoville, the town’s management services administrator. “I have not seen Russell today,” he said. “It will probably come up on Thursday in executive session. I have no comment at this time.”

Rob King, superintendent of the Hampton Bays Water District and Mr. Booth’s supervisor, referred all questions about Mr. Booth and his continued employment to the town’s Human Resources Department.

The Arthur J. Jones Scholarship Fund, 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 is overseen by a nonprofit that is separate from the Hampton Bays School District. Representatives of the nonprofit have declined to discuss the situation.

The fund 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 Hampton Bays Schools Superintendent Lars Clemensen. The names of the winners are typically announced each spring.

In a 2006 article appearing in The Press and 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.

Prior to his client being sentenced last week, Mr. Vlahadamis noted that the district attorney’s office noted that Mr. Booth did not have a prior criminal history and had expressed remorse for stealing the funds.

“We’re very pleased with the offer they made,” Mr. Vlahadamis said, referring to the district attorney’s office. “Warren looks forward to moving on from this.”

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He should be fired from his job. Schneiderman needs to act on this situation right away. No way a felon should be able to work for the town that the tax payers pay for.
By turkeyloser (22), east quogue on May 5, 16 2:28 PM
1 member liked this comment
He stole from his best friend's 9.11 fund
By farmlocal (83), Southampton on May 5, 16 2:35 PM
1 member liked this comment
please explain how a felon can work for The Water District,A comment from the Town Board will I am sure clear this issue up.
By watchdog1 (541), Southampton on May 5, 16 3:07 PM
Give it a moment, he just pled guilty.
By ThomasCarroll (1), on May 6, 16 1:39 PM
let it go for the sake of his family, he already has to live with it and that will be a large burden to carry around.

none of us are perfect
By Erin 27 E (1240), hampton bays on May 5, 16 3:27 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Babyboo (292), Hampton Bays on May 5, 16 6:57 PM
1 member liked this comment
Im sure he was remorseful when he stole
It also. What a joke. This guy needs to be fired from the town because it's unacceptable to have someone who is a burden to the tax payers. He should feel the burden just as bad as the Jones family has been hit. This guy needs to pay for the scum move he pulled. 9/11 and you steal from it. Completely unacceptable.
By turkeyloser (22), east quogue on May 5, 16 3:33 PM
I'm sure he is remorseful now, he got caught. And for his family sake he should have thought about them when he stole the first dollar. So i don't feel bad for him, his family yes him No!
By farmlocal (83), Southampton on May 5, 16 3:43 PM
He should be immediately fired and his best friend running for the local school board should also take responsibility. Hampton Bays needs a thorough house cleaning.
By peterM54 (1), Southampton on May 5, 16 4:08 PM
1 member liked this comment
People associated , one way or the other, with East End schools, sure have put our communities through the wringer this year, both emotionally and financially.
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on May 5, 16 4:30 PM
I'm sure he'll retire and collect a pension before he gets fired, just like all the politicians.
By HamptonDad (236), Hampton Bays on May 5, 16 5:17 PM
Yes, he will continue his job because the union would never let him be fired. Then the taxpayers will fund his lifetime pension and health care. He's gonna need the healthcare by the looks of things.
By Babyboo (292), Hampton Bays on May 6, 16 6:57 AM
Oh. He's looking forward to moving on from this. How nice.
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on May 5, 16 7:57 PM
1 member liked this comment
Please fire this loser
By chief1 (2770), southampton on May 5, 16 8:15 PM
Jay will sympathize with him. He's remorseful when he got caught in commercial gate and withholding the DEIS for the hills from the Taxpayers.

Don't expect any help from town hall...

By Draggerman (934), Southampton on May 5, 16 8:48 PM
1 member liked this comment
He should be able to continue his job until he has repaid the money he stole. After that hopefully he will have done something to redeem himself in the eyes of the community.
By Toma Noku (616), Southampton on May 5, 16 9:32 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By DJ9222 (85), southampton on May 6, 16 12:35 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on May 6, 16 5:34 AM
People need to call town hall and make a scene about this. How can this guy be able to walk around and be a town employee. Schneiderman where is the ethics code for the town. This guy calls himself a volunteer firemen but steals from a 9/11 fund and his best friend. Town of Southampton really needs to do something about this. This guy should be fired right away. Let me guess also is this guy going to be doing his 840 hours of community service at the Hampton Bays Fire Departmemt. Because if that ...more
By turkeyloser (22), east quogue on May 6, 16 8:24 AM
It is a very sad situation all around but stealing from the fund has nothing to do with his job performance at the water district.
By Easterlywind (7), Southampton on May 6, 16 9:10 AM
.
.
.
.
" . . . stealing . . . has nothing to do with . . . job performance . . . "

Where do we apply to work for you?

Staggering logic IMO . . .
By PBR (4947), Southampton on May 6, 16 9:15 AM
1 member liked this comment
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:23-24
As in all situations like this, when you first hear about it, it is hard to believe; No one can ever know the inner pain and guilt one feels over what act they may commit...and the consequences that follow.
The world is full of people who have been given 2nd chances at life...so as Christians is it our duty to keep our brothers ...more
By crboz812 (8), Quaker Hill on May 6, 16 10:02 AM
1 member liked this comment
Agree on that, but you have to abide by the Law, when committing the crime, you cannot play the pity card! As long as his family and friends enable him to continue his game, he will never see the Light.
By Bugal (14), Hampton Bays on May 6, 16 10:23 AM
Remorseful? Remorseful is when you make ONE bad decision because you're in some kind of financial emergency - a ONE TIME kind of situation due to circumstances beyond your control (sudden illness in the family or a critical repair to the home). He stole that money, nearly $55,000, over a FIVE YEAR period. And, let's be real here, if the bank hadn't blown the whistle, the scholarship fund would STILL be paying for all his "little" extras in life. He's a serial thief and a liar - and obviously a VERY ...more
By HB Mom (4), Hampton Bays on May 6, 16 10:50 AM
If i was him i would move out of Town - How do you show your face. My child saw him the other day and was like " dad isn't that gut that guy that stole from the Jones family 9.11 charity" even a 12 year old knew it was wrong
By farmlocal (83), Southampton on May 6, 16 11:13 AM
1 member liked this comment
Wow. I'm sure Lucifer will have a very special seat for him when his time comes
By johnj (1017), Westhampton on May 6, 16 12:52 PM
2 members liked this comment
840 hours of community service to do what? Hope its not hanging around the fire house cleaning the trucks,
By jjinhb (16), Hampton Bays on May 6, 16 2:59 PM
He certainly looks snazzy in his court apparel!
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on May 6, 16 5:09 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By lawnman (21), easthampton on May 6, 16 9:37 PM
Unfortunately that is the rumor. Community service at the firehouse that he volunteers at with all his cronies. This loser still walks around town with his head held high. If he does do his CS at the firehouse the ethics of the HBFD should be called to concern. Just sayin
By GoldenBoy (346), EastEnd on May 7, 16 8:28 AM
2 members liked this comment
Why doesn't the HBFD cut him loose? Why would they even want him as a member to sully the department? I would be afraid to let him near a residence during a fire. Who knows what this sticky fingered guy would steal.
By Babyboo (292), Hampton Bays on May 8, 16 7:14 AM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By chief1 (2770), southampton on May 7, 16 7:00 PM
The ironic think is I believe this loser was treasurer at the firehouse.
By chief1 (2770), southampton on May 8, 16 12:05 PM
All you people have so many negative things to say. But not one of you can put your real name to back up your comments! None of you know what things he was or is going through for that matter. He is very remorseful n I'm sure not walking around town with his head held high. But he still has a family to support n is not going to crawl into a hole n hide because you all r beating him while he's down. Instead of thinking of the one negative thing he did, what about all the good he did do over the last ...more
By Dennis spellman (1), Hampton bays on May 8, 16 1:01 PM
Of course a relative would say that.
By Babyboo (292), Hampton Bays on May 9, 16 6:50 AM
2 members liked this comment
you have to expect this kind of reaction...it's part of the deal with this kind of "lapse of judgment " that town is miserable and these vultures are dying to point out other's short comings to make them self feel better...
By patrick61 (18), Hampton Bays on May 30, 16 12:37 AM
The Hampton Bay's Fire district Board of Fire Commissions should throw him out of the fire dept. Booth is such a loser to do what he did, how you steal from a 911 charity is beyond me
The members of the FD should demand he resign or get expelled, what an embarrassment this is to all the dedicated members of the FD. He always had to be seen at the annual FD carnival had the loudest mouth. He already saying he wasn't convicted he plead guilty. Well guess what Booth pleading guilty is the same ...more
By lawnman (21), easthampton on May 8, 16 2:04 PM
Can't put in for losap and CS at fire house. Should be a conflict of interest. How about other venues where there will be no conflicts?
By knitter (1865), Southampton on May 8, 16 2:28 PM
Enough is enough. Say what you mean and have the nerve to sign your name. This man has devoted the last 25+ years to endless hours away from his family giving back to the community. Did he have a lapse in judgement? Yes but he is so remorseful and is paying it all back. Clearly those making comments are within his circle, it's all between the lines. His entire family does not need to suffer. Nobody knows what goes on inside another's head, lapse in judgement can be triggered by a multitude ...more
By Shell Spellman (1), Hampton Bays on May 8, 16 4:48 PM
2 members liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Babyboo (292), Hampton Bays on May 9, 16 6:56 AM
I understand for his family its been hard, but understand when he stole the first dollar he never cared about his family. If he did he would have thought 2x.

He did not steal the money to help his family he stole it to do Extra's in life like vacations and ect..

As for his 25 years of service, well that all went out the window when he stole. I have more respect for someone who does not volunteer at all then someone who does it and gets caught stealing from it.
By farmlocal (83), Southampton on May 9, 16 12:51 PM
1 member liked this comment
The man obviously had something going on that affected his poor judgement. I don't know him, but having lived in Hampton Bays for a long time I know how the gossip and talk goes. Since none of you actually knows what lead a man who appears to have always had the good of the community in his heart.....why don't you just stop being so darn critical and let the man try to put his life back together again. He is paying his dues to society and everyone should let it go at that.
By BeachGal (72), Hampton Bays on May 9, 16 4:19 PM
2 members liked this comment
a 5 year "lapse in Judgement" wtf?
By bmr80 (34), east quogue on May 9, 16 5:54 PM
I want 27East to tell me why my comments have been deleted when they are not duplicate, off-topic, nor do they contain inappropriate content? Could it be that Booth's family members are reporting them as "inappropriate"?
By Babyboo (292), Hampton Bays on May 10, 16 6:53 AM
For all of you who have made negative comments, is your life miserable that you feel you need to mock someone to make You feel better? If so, I feel sorry for you. Until you live behind someone elses four walls, walked in their shoes, you need to keep shut...
By seabear (2), floral city on May 10, 16 8:39 AM
We are not "mocking" anyone. We are pointing out Mr. Booth is a thief who is missing a moral compass. So are you if you are defending his actions.
By Babyboo (292), Hampton Bays on May 16, 16 6:05 PM
Ok, it's done it's over with. He came clean the money is being repaid and his reputation is now destroyed. Putting him in jail would accomplish very little as the taxpayers would only have to pay for him to be in jail and that would only stir up more drama in the Hamptons. For the sake of his family let this go. His family does not need to pay for his mistakes. As far as him losing his job I ask why ? isn't it more important the money be repaid for the sake of the children ? If he were to lose his ...more
By typical (63), southampton on May 10, 16 4:34 PM
2 members liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By mtkfish (59), montauk on May 11, 16 2:33 PM
Oh brother! Are you for real?
By Babyboo (292), Hampton Bays on May 11, 16 5:21 PM