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Former Elmont library employee pleads guilty to embezzlement charges


A former Elmont Memorial Library employee pleaded guilty to grand larceny charges on Sept. 1, admitting that she stole more than $260,000 from the library over six years, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced.

Sheila Seward, 58, of West Babylon, is expected to be sentenced to one to three years in prison when she returns to court on Nov. 16, and will be required to pay $236,752.50 in restitution. Her attorney, John Russo, could not be reached for comment as of press time.

According to Singas, Seward stole a total of $262,190.20 from the library between August 2012 and September 2018, while working as an administrative assistant. In that role, Singas said, Seward prepared the library’s payroll, and therefore had access to its finances.

Beginning in August 2012, she said, Seward began to add excess payments, labeled as “other compensation,” to her paychecks. The amounts she added to her checks ranged from $39 to $6,900, and increased over time. In total, Singas reported, Seward added money to her paychecks more than 100 times, and used the funds for medical bills and college tuition.

Seward resigned from her position at the library in August 2018.

About a month later, Elmont Library officials caught on to her scheme, when they conducted a review of the library’s financial statements. They then called the District Attorney’s Office.

“We were obviously shocked to learn of all the alleged illegal activities taking place within our library system,” Livingstone Young, president of the library board said last November, when Seward was charged with second-degree grand larceny, second-degree falsifying business records and official misconduct.

The library has since taken to protect itself from further thefts. In a news release following Seward’s arrest, library officials wrote that they had hired a library director and a personnel clerk, changed insurance carriers and increased coverage for employee theft. Additionally, they said, the library has since automated its payroll system, and is now receiving payroll warrants directly from the payroll company.

“Public libraries are the cornerstones of our neighborhoods,” Singas said in a statement, “and my office will aggressively work to return this stolen money to the Elmont community.”