AG: Huntley Member Items Funneled To Aide (Update)
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced today that four people — including an aide to Queens Democratic Sen. Shirley Huntley — will be indicted for filing fraudulent documents in order to pocket $30,000 in member-item cash meant for a non-profit.
The indictments and ongoing investigation is the fruit of an agreement between their offices to audit and investigate public malfeasance. The indictments also help the attorney general contradict claims made by his primary and general election opponents last year that the then-state senator would not aggressively pursue his Democratic colleagues once he moves to the AG’s office.
The investigation found that the president and treasurer of the Parent Workshop, Inc. filed phony documents with the state in order to receive public money via a legislative member item. The indictment says that instead of using the money for public programs, two of the defendants pocketed about $29,950.
The indictment names the non-profit’s president, Patricia Savage, who also serves as an aide to Huntley, along with Lynn Smith, the organization’s treasurer who also shares a residence with Huntley. Officials allege that the defendants falsely claimed they would use the money for workshops and to conduct outreach to parents on the workings of the New York public school system.
“This personal profit-making scheme defrauded taxpayers, all the while depriving communities of much-needed funds. Now it’s time to hold those behind it accountable,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “The charges announced today send a strong message that those who abuse their positions to rip off taxpayers will be prosecuted. My office’s partnership with the Comptroller is designed to combat such corruption, and we will continue to work tirelessly to protect every penny of taxpayer money during these challenging economic times.”
Subpoenaed in the case is consultant David R. Gantt, who officials said falsified records in order to claim that he was paid in cash for conducting workshops.
Roger Scotland, the president of the Southern Queens Park Association, a separate non-profit organization, also created a false doucment, investigators allege. He was charged with first-degree falsifying business records.
It’s important to note several additional things here: Schneiderman has claimed that he wanted broader investigatory powers from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, but was rebuffed. Cuomo’s former top aide claims no request was made by the attorney general’s office.
And the news comes as lawmakers are back in town today to take up Cuomo’s big economic package as well. Cuomo and Schneiderman are said to have a rocky relationship, but the attorney general said late last month that the relationship between their offices is professional.
Update: The good-government group Common Cause chimes in. Also, I’m told the Huntley is not in Albany today for the special session.
“The indictment against Senator Huntley’s staff is another disturbing reminder that member items are a prime target for abuse by unscrupulous individuals. Perhaps Senator Huntley will consider a bill to eliminate member items, and in so doing, the opportunity to abuse the public trust. Common Cause applauds the Attorney General and Comptroller for their commitment to public integrity, and urges them to continue their efforts,” said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on December 7, 2011 at 12:17 pm, and is filed under Attorney General. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|
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