MINEOLA, N.Y. — Before an angry judge and a courtroom packed with residents and students, former Roslyn schools Supt. Frank Tassone on Tuesday apologized to the school district he fleeced of more than $2 million, called his crimes "shameful" and was sent to state prison for four to 12 years.
"My actions are shameful, deplorable," Tassone said, his voice breaking. "I am deeply sorry to the people of Roslyn, to the youngsters of Roslyn. I hope that my days in prison are spent trying to do some good working in the ministry of teaching, so perhaps I can make up to society in that way."
Tassone, who dressed in expensive suits during his tenure as schools chief, arrived in the Nassau County, Long Island, courtroom for his sentencing handcuffed and wearing an orange jailhouse jumpsuit.
Except for when he spoke to the court, Tassone, looking pale and disheveled, stared straight ahead or down at the defense table, even when he was addressed directly by a school official reading a victim impact statement.
Tassone was arrested last week in his bed at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan after missing his sentencing date for the second time in three weeks -- both times because he was hospitalized within hours of his court date.
As Tassone spoke, one of his sisters, Amelia Bannerman of the Bronx, sat in the front row of the courtroom, crying quietly. "They wouldn't even let him get dressed," she said, shaking her head. "I hope they're happy now."
No one else in the courtroom apparently had any sympathy for the 59-year-old former superintendent, who pleaded guilty last year to first- and seconddegree grand larceny for his role in an $11.2-million embezzlement scheme.
Acting Supreme Court Justice Alan Honorof, comparing school officials to soldiers fighting a war to keep children from making poor choices, called Tassone "a traitor."
Tassone "committed treason against our community and our society," Honorof said. Then he sentenced Tassone to serve his time at Fishkill state prison. The sentence is the result of a plea bargain in which Tassone agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for a reduced prison term.
He could have received 25 years.