Hempstead music director charged in computer larceny scheme

HEMPSTEAD, Long Island (WABC) -- A Long Island music director is under arrest, accused of purchasing computers with school money and then sending them to John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Theresa Cucina, 55, of Long Beach, was arrested by NYPD officers Tuesday morning.

Authorities say Cucina had purchased $140,000 in computers since June and had them sent to Hempstead High School, where she was employed as the music director for the past five years. They are not releasing how Cucina got her hands on the cash.

According to the investigation, Cucina would then repackage them and send them to JFK Airport. It is unclear where they went from there, but it is believed she was reselling computers at a higher price.

She is charged with one count grand larceny.

Superintendent Simon Waronker tells Eyewitness News that Cucina claims she was scammed.

"We're here in the school district to help the children," he said. "And I'm going to be very supportive of everyone who is here to help the children. Those who are not here for the interests of the children do not belong in our school system."

He also said they have evidence of her alleged wrongdoing.

"There's more than enough evidence of involvement and of actual payments being made and her sending computers, which were addressed to Hempstead public schools," he said.

Maribel Toure, the school board president was outraged.

"The mission of the board is to protect the well being of the students, the taxpayers," she said. "They've been abused for too long. I think little by little, we are going to clean up this district."

Still, some parents say it just can't be true, and they're standing behind the accused. Victoria Culbreath's son has performed in many school theater productions with Cucina.

"Someone showed him video on the phone of her being arrested," she said. "He heartbroken. All the kids are heartbroken. All the kids love her. She's like a second mom."

The superintendent said this is just the beginning of the investigation, and additional arrests are possible.
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