Embezzled State $ Through Nonprofit
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced that the co-defendants in the case of former State Sen. Shirley L. Huntley have pled guilty for their roles in an illegal member item theft scheme and a cover up.
Patricia Savage, Huntley’s aide and president of Parent Workshop, a bogus nonprofit, and Lynn Smith, Huntley’s niece and the treasurer of Parent Workshop, pleaded guilty last Wednesday, Feb. 20, to the felony of attempted grand larceny in the third degree, and agreed to pay $29,950 in restitution to the state of New York, the full amount of taxpayer dollars they had stolen.
A third co-defendant, David Gantt, pleaded guilty to the charge of falsifying business records in the second degree.
The defendants falsely claimed that Parent Workshop used member item funds secured by Huntley to hold workshops for and conduct outreach to parents on the workings of
New York City public school system. Instead of providing the promised programs, Savage and Smith pocketed approximately $29,950.
Gantt falsified records to claim that he was paid in cash for conducting workshops as a consultant, when in fact he never actually conducted any workshops.
Nassau County Supreme Court Judge Norman St. George is scheduled to sentence Savage and Smith on Mar. 27 and Gantt on Mar. 29.
Earlier this month, Huntley pled guilty to a felony charge for her role in the cover up of this scheme.
The investigation into the theft revealed that, after learning of the probe into her grant to the Parent Workshop, then-Senator Huntley created a handwritten template for a false, backdated letter designed to fool investigators into believing that the Parent Workshop had conducted workshops, when in fact no such workshops were ever conducted.
This letter was submitted to the Attorney General’s office in response to a subpoena issued to the Parent Workshop.
“As a result of our investigation, the taxpayers of this state will be fully reimbursed for the money stolen through this scheme. There are no excuses for public officials and their associates who game the system to line their pockets, and then engage in a brazen cover up when their crimes are exposed,” Schneiderman said. “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.”
“There is no place in public service for those who enrich themselves at the expense of taxpayers,” Di- Napoli added. “These individuals defrauded the public and through our Joint Task Force have been held accountable for their actions. My office will continue to work with the Attorney General to investigate wrongdoing and safeguard the use of taxpayer funds.”
Since 1999, the New York State Legislature has distributed more than $900 million through legislative member items to more than 20,000 nonprofit entities.
Investigator Gerard Matheson and Investigative Analyst Brian Selfon of the Investigations Bureau assisted in this case, under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Michael Ward and Chief Dominick Zarrella. Prosecuting the case are Public Integrity Bureau Senior Counsel Emily Bradford, Public Integrity Bureau Assistant Attorney General Jerrold Steigman and Criminal Prosecutions Bureau Assistant Attorney General Thomas Schellhammer.
The investigation was supervised by Public Integrity Bureau Deputy Chief Stacy Aronowitz and Chief William E. Schaeffer, under the supervision of Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan.
The joint investigation was conducted the Comptroller’s Bureau of State Expenditures and Legal Services Division’s Investigations Unit.
Anyone with additional information on this matter or any other public corruption is encouraged to contact the Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-996-4630 or the Comptroller’s office by dialing the toll-free fraud hotline at 1-888-672-4555; filing a complaint online at investigations@ osc.state.ny.us; or mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller Investigations Unit, 110 State Street, 14th floor, Albany, NY 12236.