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NEWS from the Office of the New York State Comptroller
Contact: Press Office 518-474-4015

DiNapoli: Former NYU Finance Director Pays Over $660,000 in Restitution for Role in Multi-Million Dollar Fraud

April 26, 2024

A former director of finance and administration at New York University paid full restitution of $663,209 after pleading guilty to grand larceny for orchestrating a $3.5 million, 6-year fraud relating to two NYU programs, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg Jr. announced today.

“Cindy Tappe executed a scheme to support her lavish lifestyle at the expense of children with special needs and young English Language learners. She is now a convicted felon and has paid back the money she stole,” DiNapoli said. “I thank District Attorney Bragg for his partnership in the investigation and in bringing her to justice.”

“Cindy Tappe has now been sentenced for diverting funds that were intended to benefit students for her own personal gain. Her fraudulent actions not only threatened to affect the quality of education for students with disabilities and multilingual students but denied our city’s minority- and women-owned business enterprises a chance to fairly compete for funding,” Bragg said. “I thank the New York State Comptroller’s Office for its partnership as we continue to root out fraud in Manhattan. Those who take advantage of our students and businesses will be held accountable.”

Tappe, 59, used her position as the director of finance and administration for NYU’s Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and Transformation of Schools (the “Metro Center”) to divert approximately $3.5 million intended for minority- and women-owned businesses. She ultimately routed $3.3 million to bank accounts held by two shell companies she created by using subcontractors to serve as pass throughs. None of the subcontractors performed work on the contracts. Instead, they took between 3% and 6% of the invoice amounts as “overhead,” and sent the remainder of $3.352 million to Tappe’s fictitious shell companies.

Tappe used some of the funds for NYU payments and employee reimbursements but kept more than $660,000 to pay for personal expenses, including renovations to her home and an $80,000 swimming pool.

Tappe, of Westport, Conn., pleaded guilty to one count of grand larceny. She was sentenced to serve five years’ probation and paid full restitution in the amount of $663,209.07 at the time of sentencing. The subcontractors also repaid $150,000.

Since taking office in 2007, DiNapoli has committed to fighting public corruption and encourages the public to help fight fraud and abuse. New Yorkers can report allegations of fraud involving taxpayer money by calling the toll-free Fraud Hotline at 1-888-672-4555, by filing a complaint online at, or by mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Investigations, 8th Floor, 110 State St., Albany, NY 12236.