Hindu Cultural Center founder accused of larceny

By Karen Frantz

Two women who had worked for a South Ozone Park nonprofit and are connected to the city government were arrested on charges they stole tens of thousands of dollars from the organization’s senior lunch program through an overbilling and kickback scheme, the state attorney general said Monday.

Chan Jamoona, 66, who is the founder of the United Hindu Cultural Council and also serves on the Queens General Assembly, was charged with grand larceny and conspiracy along with several other counts, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.

Her daughter, Veda Jamoona, 28, who is a staffer in city Comptroller John Liu’s public affairs office and a former executive director of the council, also faces grand larceny, conspiracy and other charges in connection with the scheme, he said.

“By stealing from the senior center lunch program, the defendants put personal greed ahead of the basic needs of New York seniors,” Schneiderman said Monday.

“When it comes to services vital for our seniors, we cannot accept fraud as a cost of doing business. My office will prosecute fraud in critical New York programs to the fullest extent of the law,” he said.

According Schneiderman, Chan and Veda Jamoona are alleged to have made off with the money by falsifying bills submitted to the city Department for the Aging, which funded the program.

They are accused of ordering employees at the nonprofit, at 118-09 Sutter Ave., to make up false invoices from the senior center’s caterer, Sonny’s Roti Shop, and put fake signatures on sign-in sheets, the AG’s office said.

The owner of Sonny’s Roti Shop, Steven Rajkumar, 57, was also charged in connection with the scheme, the AG said. He is accused of receiving payments for the false invoices and kicking some of the money back to Chan Jamoona, Schneiderman said. Sonny’s Roti Shop is at 118-06 Liberty Ave. in Ozone Park.

The AG’s office said that between 2007 the three are suspected of stealing at least $50,000.

They were arraigned Monday in State Supreme Court in Queens as investigators carried out a search warrant for documents and computers at the United Hindu Cultural Council.

Asked for comment, Chan Jamoona said the information provided by the attorney general’s office was “totally incorrect,” but would not elaborate.

Rajkumar also told TimesLedger Newspapers he believed the information from the AG’s office was incorrect, but would not say anything further because he said he was directed not to speak with the press.

Liu’s office released a statement saying Veda Jamoona was suspended without pay until further notice. She has worked at the comptroller’s office since January 2012 at an annual salary of $55,000.

The top charge of grand larceny carries a maximum jail sentence of five to 15 years.

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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