A Deerfield man, who is the former director of a non-profit that helps disabled children through sports, has pleaded guilty in federal court to stealing over $800,000 for his own personal expenses.
Stuart Nitzkin, 45, of Deerfield, was charged with one count of felony wire fraud, according to a criminal information document filed in the United States District Court Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division.
Nitzkin appeared in court by video conference on Wednesday and entered his guilty plea. He faces between 33 and 41 months in prison.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for August 3.
The charge was filed last week and said that Nitzkin was the executive director of “Organization A,” which federal prosecutors described as a non-profit Illinois corporation committed to empowering physically disabled children to participate in physical and psychological rehabilitation through sports.
Online corporation records show that the corporation is American Friends Of Israel Sport Center for the Disabled (ISCD), which is based out of Northfield.
Prosecutors said in the charging document that Nitzkin was responsible for organizing and managing the organization’s fundraising events and soliciting donations from donors. He was paid a salary of $150,000 a year.
Nitzkin was authorized to seek reimbursement from the non-profit for expenses he incurred that were related to those tasks.
Prosecutors said that Nitzkin devised and participated in a scheme to defraud the non-profit starting in April 2011.
Nitzkin allegedly made false and fraudulent representations to American Friends of ISCD and others in order to misappropriate the non-profit’s funds, which he knew he was not entitled to, prosecutors said.
Nitzkin used the funds for his and others’ personal benefit, including to reimburse and pay for personal expenses unrelated to the organization’s mission.
He is accused of submitting his personal credit card statements to the organization for reimbursement, prosecutors said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sheri Mecklenburg said in the factual basis of a plea agreement that Nitzkin used the stolen money to pay for things like luxury vacations, personal golf expenses, NBA game tickets, personal medical expenses, and property taxes on his private residence.
At one point, Nitzkin started his own business to provide goods and services to a camp that had no connection to American Friends of ISCD and charged expenses of his business to American Friends of ISCD.
Prosecutors also say that Nitzkin withdrew cash from the bank account of American Friends of ISCD and used their company credit card for his and his family’s personal benefit.
Prosecutors further allege that Nitzkin took cash from donations to the organization. He also caused American Friends of ISCD to make payments to a vendor, who was a personal friend of his, to provide catering services to American Friends of ISCD for a fundraising event.
Nitzkin “knew the payments to Vendor A were in excess of the amount due for Vendor A’s services, and further, misrepresented to [American Friends of ISCD] the amount paid to Vendor A,” the charging documents said.
In total, Nitzkin fraudulently misappropriated at least $831,000 from American Friends of ISCD, prosecutors said. He left the non-profit in the middle of 2016.