2016-04-13 / Front Page

DA: Six-Figure Siphon Sparked Acid Attack

By Liz Goff
A man who tossed a caustic liquid in the face of a Queens nonprofit director did so as part of a conspiracy to cover up the theft of $750,000 from the group, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Jerry Mohammed, 32, is facing 25 years in prison on assault and conspiracy charges in connection with the August 19 attack on Dr. Alexandra Dyer, 59, who had questioned employees just two days before about the missing funds, Brown said.

Prosecutors said Dyer, an ordained priest and director of the Healing Arts Initiative (HAI,) was walking to her car on Skillman Avenue near 33rd Street in Sunnyside at about 5:35 p.m. on August 19 when Mohammed approached her from behind and said, “Can I ask you a question?” As Dyer turned to answer him, Mohammed tossed the contents of a coffee cup at Dyer, severely burning her.

Stunned, Dyer ran to her nearby car and tried to drive off. She made it only about 200 feet before she was overwhelmed by the pain and was forced to stop the car, a law enforcement source said. Dyer was hospitalized and underwent multiple surgeries to repair third-degree burns to her face, eyes, neck and hands.

Mohammed, a former HAI employee, is named, with former HAI accountant Kim Williams, in a 65-count indictment charging them with assault, grand larceny and conspiracy in the theft and the attack on Dyer, Brow said. Co-conspirator Pia Louallen, who worked with Williams, was charged in the indictment with grand larceny and conspiracy.

Williams is facing 25 years in prison and Louallen is facing 15 years, if convicted.

Brown said Mohammed and Williams schemed to silence Dyer, who raised questions about the missing funds at a meeting with employees of the nonprofit on August 17.

Williams left the meeting and went to a supermarket where she used a credit card to purchase lye, Brown said. Police tracked the purchase to Williams, who was arrested at a New Jersey rest stop on April 4. Williams was charged with assault, conspiracy, weapons possession, grand larceny, identity theft and falsifying business records.

Brown said Williams, 47, is accused of stealing more than $600,000 from the nonprofit between 2013 and 2015. Williams gave her friend, Louallen, a gift of $150,000 in funds she siphoned from the group, Brown said.

“This case is troubling on so many levels,” Brown said. “In an atmosphere of such giving, it is disheartening to see an individual allegedly use her position of fiduciary trust to siphon off tens of thousands of funds for the personal use of herself and another.

“More disturbing, perhaps, is the same individual allegedly conspiring with another to intentionally seriously injure an innocent victim as part of a cover up,” Brown said.

Dyer is suing the Healing Arts Initiative board of directors for failing to prevent the embezzlement scheme that let to her attack.

Dyer filed the lawsuit on April 6 on behalf of the nonprofit, claiming seven members of the board of directors “violated their duties” by “permitting $750,000 to be stolen by three former employees of HAI and (for) hiring non-independent auditors.”

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