EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 3, 2011

Lawrence police arrest fugitive wanted in $5.7 million NYC heist

By Jill Harmacinski
jharmacinski@eagletribune.com

LAWRENCE - Police officers pretending to investigate a 911 call at a Marston Street apartment complex nabbed an alleged New York City fugitive charged with stealing $5.7 million from Columbia University in a "large-scale white-collar" Internet crime.

Jeremy Dieudonne, 46, a Haitian man living under the stolen Puerto Rican identity of Hector Santiago, was arrested at a 112 Marston St. apartment last Friday afternoon, according to police.

Dieudonne, along with two business partners, were indicted in New York on grand larceny and other charges after they allegedly siphoned $5.7 million from Columbia University into accounts under their own names. The trio, which operated a company called IT & Security Solutions LLC, is accused of then withdrawing stolen cash from the accounts, according to court papers.

Last Wednesday, New York City detectives came to Lawrence, where they believed Dieudonne was living at 112 Marston St., Apt. 217, under the name of Hector Santiago. Lawrence officer Michael Simard went with the detectives to look for Dieudonne but he was not home and the New York detectives returned to New York.

On Friday, after enlisting help from Trooper John Strazzullo of the State Police Fugitive Apprehension Unit, Simard and Officer Adam Goujon went back to apartment 217 "on a 911 ruse," according to a police report.

Dieudonne identified himself at first as Santiago, but admitted moments later that he was Dieudonne. He was immediately arrested on the New York City warrant as a fugitive from justice.

During booking at the Lawrence Police Department, Dieudonne gave police a New York City address.

Police confiscated three cell phones, a wallet containing a Massachusetts driver's license and Social Security card in the name of Hector Santiago, as well as miscellaneous credit cards, business cards and paperwork in the name of Jeremy Dieudonne. A laptop computer and a Ford Explorer, both of which Dieudonne said belonged to a friend, were also seized, police said.

Dieudonne, along with his business partners George Castro and Walter Stephens, are accused of stealing $5.7 million from a Columbia University payment account between Oct. 4, 2010 and Nov. 24, 2010, according to a search warrant affidavit filed with the Supreme Court of New York on July 11.

Police in New York launched an investigation last November after the public safety director at Columbia University reported that someone had accessed their accounts payable system and changed information related to a payment account for Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, which is affiliated with Columbia University, according to court papers.

Investigators uncovered that $5.7 million was sent to bank accounts linked to Dieudonne, Castro and Stephens, "without knowledge or permission or authority from Columbia University." The money was then withdrawn by the trio from the new accounts.

A police review of Dieudonne's bank records "revealed that during the course of the fraud, Dieudonne received more of the stolen funds than any other individual other than Castro himself," according to the affidavit.

Castro was indicted for grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and money laundering on Nov. 29, 2010.

In June, Dieudonne and Stephens were also indicted for grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and for acting in concert with Castro to steal funds from Columbia University, according to the affidavit.

Dieudonne was arraigned as a fugitive from justice in Lawrence District Court on Monday. He did not fight extradition to New York and was released to the custody of NYPD detectives yesterday.

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