Today’s news:

Former Flushing arts head stole from group: City

Harvey Seifter, the former executive director of the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts, was arrested and charged with grand larceny last week for allegedly bilking nearly $5,000 from the cultural institution, according to the city Department of Investigation.

DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn said Friday that Harvey Seifter, 55, is accused of stealing $4,230 while serving as the head of the the Flushing Council, which operates Flushing Town Hall, between 2004 and 2008.

“Executives at city−funded nonprofits must be careful stewards of their organizations’ money,” Hearn said. “Intentionally double−billing is a crime that wastes precious resources.”

The arrest came more than two years after the FCCA board abruptly fired Seifter.

“We are a growing organization with expanding activities and programs,” said a statement by Flushing Council board member Carol Conslato, explaining Seifter’s termination in November 2006. “The board felt that with the direction the organization was going, Harvey Seifter’s services were no longer needed.”

According to Hearn, however, the DOI began investigating after it was notified by the city Department of Cultural Affairs that allegations of theft had been made against Seifter during his tenure with the FCCA.

A spokesman for the FCCA and Flushing Town Hall said the group had no comment on Seifter’s arrest.

Hearn said Seifter allegedly stole the money by billing the FCCA twice for several business expenses he made using FCCA−issued debit and credit cards. She said he also allegedly charged the FCCA for expenses related to Americans for the Arts, a national organization that supports the arts and culture through private and public resource development, for which he served as a consultant.

If convicted, Seifter faces up to seven years in prison, according to the DOI.

Seifter ran the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts from 2004 until November 2007, during which time the organization became a Smithsonian Institution affiliate.

Prior to working at Flushing Town Hall, Seifter was the executive director of Orpheus, known as “the world’s only conductor−less orchestra.” During Seifter’s tenure, Orpheus, located in Manhattan, released 11 new recordings and won five Grammy Awards.

The Flushing council became an affiliate to the Smithsonian Institution in 2004, a distinction that enabled the group to exhibit art and artifacts from the vast Smithsonian collection.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 138.

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