- Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada: Espada was convicted in 2012 for embezzling more than $14 million in public money from the nonprofit Bronx healthcare clinic he founded in 1978, which he used to pay his campaign expenses and purchase expensive sushi.
- State Sen. Shirley Huntley: Huntley, from Queens, is currently in a federal prison after being convicted of embezzling money from a charity she controlled.
- Sen. William Boyland: Prosecutors have accused former Senator Boyland of, among much else, extracting a sham consulting job with the hospital nonprofit Medisys, while securing state grants for the hospital.
- Sen. Carl Kruger: Sen. Kruger is now in prison, had a similar arrangement between Medisys and a consulting firm where he was a partner.
Friday, September 20, 2013
Politicians and Charity Money Not A Good Mix
by Gary Snyder
In testimony before the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, some of New York’s top prosecutors called for significant changes including increased oversight of the nonprofit organizations that have been the nexus of numerous corruption schemes.
Investigations by federal prosecutors have exposed, through subpoenas and wiretaps, the seedy underbelly of Albany deals exempt from disclosure under current law, and politicians’ personal relationships with nonprofit organizations receiving state funding.
At the hearing, a hefty list of corruption cases won or currently being prosecuted was discussed:
The case against Huntley involved member items, a process through which state lawmakers were able to give earmarked funding to charities in their district and beyond.
Even with curbs on member items at the state level, lawmakers still exert influence over how grants are disbursed. One example: In the federal complaint charging State Senator Malcolm Smith with bribery the senator can be overheard on a wiretap talking about freely available grant funds: “Multi-modal money is outside the budget and it’s always around.”
It is suspected lawmakers used their positions as leaders on various legislative committees to influence state agencies deciding how to disburse grants, a vague process the Moreland Commission is expected to investigate.
“There are tons of photographs of legislators handing out oversize checks to community groups,” Bill Mahoney, an analyst with the New York Public Interest Research Group said. (source)