Ex-NYC worker gets 15 years for 9/11 money theft Published: 7/11/08, 8:45 PM EDT By LARRY NEUMEISTER NEW YORK (AP) - A former medical examiner's office worker was sentenced Friday to 15 years in prison for stealing at least $9 million intended to identify victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Natarjan Venkataram, 43, tearfully apologized before he was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert Patterson, who said he wanted to show city employees they cannot steal public money. Venkataram said he was ashamed and aware of "how misdirected I was." "I terribly failed everyone with my wrong decisions and wrong acts," he said. "I will regret this great loss for the rest of my life." Venkataram pleaded guilty in October to 16 charges, including embezzlement and money laundering. He was accused of working with a subordinate to arrange kickbacks from companies that received computer service contracts. The scam began before 2001. But it took on a new urgency when the office needed more computer services to identify victims after the attacks. Prosecutor Andrew Dember had asked for the 15-year sentence, saying Venkataram saw the terrorist attacks "an opportunity to steal millions, and that's exactly what he did." Venkataram stole at least $9 million, much of it from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, authorities said. It was initially supposed to buy computer systems used to track and identify DNA and other forensic evidence from crime scenes. After the terrorist attacks, the money was meant to be spent on computer services to identify victims through evidence collected at ground zero. Venkataram was arrested in 2005. He was accused of steering more than $13 million in computer service contracts and purchase orders between 1999 and 2004, in exchange for cash payments to shell companies he controlled. Authorities said Venkataram and the subordinate stashed much of the money in India. More than $6 million has been recovered. What a dirt bag POS !