2016-05-11 / Front Page

Acid Attack Whistleblower, Financial Officer Booted By Nonprofit

By Liz Goff
The director of a Queens arts charity disfigured in an acid attack after she raised a red flag over $750,000 embezzlement scheme was fired on May 6.

Alexandra Dyer, 60, was fired a month after she sued the board of directors at the Healing Arts Institute (HAI.) A financial officer who helped uncover the embezzlement was also fired.

According to a report in the New York Times, a statement issued by the HAI Board of Directors said Dye and financial officer Hank Williams were fired for “withholding critical financial and other information,” Williams told the Times he and Dye were actually fired for exposing the funds stolen from the charity.

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

Dyer also sued the board of the nonprofit for failing to prevent the conspiracy that lee to the August 19 attack that left her face permanently disfigured.

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

Dyer 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. 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. 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.

Authorities said Mohammed and Williams schemed to silence Dyer, after she raised questions about the missing funds at a meeting with HAI employees on August 17.

Williams left the meeting and went to a supermarket where she used a credit card to purchase lye, authorities 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.

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, authorities said.

Members of the HAI board said they have “made numerous requests and had multiple conversations with Dye and Williams” to obtain critical financial and other information required for approval of the nonprofit’s annual $5 million budget. Board members said that information “has not been forthcoming.”

Dyer’s attorney, Ronald G. Russo, said the information  has been forthcoming, and that his client is considering filing a whistleblower lawsuit against the nonprofit.

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