A Long Island man is accused of stealing nearly half a million dollars in prize money awarded to jazz musician Cecil Taylor last year, officials said.
Noel Muir, 54, of Uniondale, N.Y., was charged with second-degree grand larceny. According to the Brooklyn district attorney's office, Muir was working as a general contractor on a Fort Greene brownstone next door to Taylor in June 2013 when the musician was told he won a Kyoto Award with a cash gift of $500,000.
Muir helped Taylor prepare for the trip and accompanied him to Japan in that November, prosecutors said, also arranging for the receipt of the award money. He allegedly instructed for the prize to be wired to an account, claiming the name on it was "The Cecil Taylor Foundation." Instead, the name on the account was actually that of Muir's company, prosecutors said.
"The defendant befriended Mr. Taylor and won his trust, which later made it easier for him to allegedly swindle this vulnerable, elderly and great jazz musician out of his prize money," Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said in a statement.
Muir was awaiting arraignment Tuesday night. It was not clear if he had an attorney.
The account where the money was wired has been depleted, according to prosecutors. Thompson's office filed a civil asset forfeiture action against Muir in an attempt to recover the money.
Muir faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
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