Ex-Brooklyn community board district manager gave himself unauthorized raises, DA says

A former Brooklyn community board district manager was charged Monday with forging signatures in order to give himself hefty pay raises, officials said.

Between May 2015 and October 2017, Craig Hammerman, then-district manager of Community Board 6, forged the signature of Community Board chairman Sayar Lonial three times and forged former chairman Gary Reilly’s signature once in order to give himself raises that amounted to $38,345 in pay he was not entitled to, according to Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. Community Board 6 covers Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Red Hook and Park Slope.

“This defendant allegedly sought to enrich himself with taxpayer money to which he was not entitled,” Gonzalez said in an emailed statement Monday. “This was a betrayal of the public trust that cannot be tolerated.”

By the time he resigned in October 2017, his salary was $121,931, per Gonzalez’s office. At the time of his resignation, Hammerman was embroiled in controversy after being arrested twice earlier that year for allegedly stalking his ex-girlfriend, according to published reports.

The alleged forgery was discovered in September by Community Board 6 members, who then brought the matter to the district attorney’s office and the Department of Investigation. The joint investigation that followed revealed three forged letters authorizing the pay increases and one forged document supporting a pay increase that was referred to as a “Planned Action Report,” per Gonzalez’s office.

Joyce David, Hammerman’s attorney, plans to fight the charges, which she said are being mischaracterized by the district attorney’s office.

“As district manager he was authorized to do the business of the community board. He was authorized to use the board chairman’s electronic signature and he used that on all of his work,” she said by telephone Monday. “There was nothing improper or illegal about what he did.”

David said Hammerman is confident that he mentioned the raises to Lonial and that there was nothing unusual about how her client went about getting approval.

“It comes down to whether he was trying to secretly give himself a raise,” David said, which she added was “ridiculous,” because his salary is a matter of public record.

A request for comment from Community Board 6 regarding Hammerman’s case was not immediately returned.

Hammerman, 53, of Fort Greene, was arraigned Monday on a 17-count indictment before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chu, including charges of second-degree forgery, first-degree falsifying business records and third-degree grand larceny, per the district attorney’s office. He was released without bail and is due back in court on Aug. 8.

If convicted on the top charge, Hammerman could face up to seven years in prison, per Gonzalez’s office.