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Police: Acid Attack On Queens Nonprofit Director Was Intended To Cover Up Embezzlement

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Three people stood charged Tuesday in connection with a vicious acid attack in Long Island City, Queens.

As CBS2's Ilana Gold reported, the victim was targeted more than seven months ago. Late Tuesday, investigators believed they knew what had prompted the alleged crime.

Alexandra Dyer was getting into her car on Skillman Avenue around 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 19 of last year, when the suspect called out to her and then splashed her in the face with the unknown substance when she turned around, police said.

Dyer told police at the time that she got in her car and tried to get away, but the burning was so bad she only made it 200 feet. A passerby called 911.

The attacker left Dyer with chemical burns to the face and eyes. She was treated at a hospital for third-degree burns and released.

Police on Tuesday said the attack was an attempt to cover up an embezzlement scheme at her workplace – a nonprofit called the Healing Arts Initiative – where Dyer is the executive director.

Investigators initially put out a sketch of the man responsible for throwing the chemical in Dyer's face. Seven months later, police made an arrest – identifying the suspect as Jerry Mohammed, 32.

Police said Mohammed worked with at least two acquaintances who were also in custody Tuesday.

CBS2 went to Dyer's home in St. Albans, Queens on Tuesday. Her husband answered the door, and said both he and Dyer were declining to comment.

When it comes to her co-workers, one simply said "yes," when asked whether she was relieved that an arrest had been made.

Investigators said the mastermind of the attack was Kim Williams. They said she worked as an accountant at Dyer's organization, which provides arts services to students and the less fortunate.

Williams is accused of stealing $750,000 from the workplace between 2012 and 2015.

Police said Williams gave 20 percent of the illegal money to her friend, Pia Louallen, and then Williams allegedly tried to conceal the crime. Police said Williams then enlisted Mohammed, who allegedly threw the acid on Dyer to divert everyone's attention away from the theft.

When asked if she suspected the supposed embezzlement was going on, a Healing Arts Initiative co-worker said, "Not really."

All suspects were facing a long list of criminal charges, including larceny and assault. Louallen faced a judge on Tuesday, while Williams and Mohammed will have their day in court on Wednesday.

CBS2 tried talking to leaders at the Healing Arts Initiative about the recent arrests, but they told CBS2 they could not comment because the case is still under investigation.

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