Sent Phony Papers To Fed Grand Jury
The former executive director of the Ridgewood- Bushwick Senior Citizens Council (RBSCC) was ordered last Tuesday, Apr. 9, to serve a year of probation following her guilty plea to charges that she falsified documents about her salary in responding to a grand jury subpoena.
Christiana Fisher, 57, of Queens was also charged a $2,500 fine and a $10 special assessment during her appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. Francis last Tuesday. Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, noted that Fisher has also forfeited over $170,000 in personal funds amounting to the compensation she previously failed to disclose.
Law enforcement sources said Fisher-who directed the RBSCC up until her resignation last year-ordered the creation and submission of false documents regarding her com- pensation to the U.S. Attorney’s office after the RBSCC was subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in September 2010.
Reportedly, Fisher made over $330,000 a year in 2008, and her annual salary jumped the next year to over $780,000.
Rather than disclose this information, authorities noted, employees at RBSCC were ordered by Fisher to create documents which indicated that the council’s board of directors had agreed to raises in her salary. Phony tax filings reflecting the bogus salary were also created by staff.
The documents were then presented to the federal grand jury, but the scam was revealed through an investigation by the FBI and the city Department of Investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie H. Cohen prosecuted the case.
Fisher was the former campaign treasurer of Assemblyman Vito Lopez, founder of the RBSCC, who has been the subject of an investigation into charges that he sexually harassed two female staff members last summer. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver stripped him of his senior status last year and slashed funding and staff for his office.
The scandal also caused Lopez not to seek re-election as leader of the Democratic Party in Brooklyn.
In addition to rebuffing calls for his resignation from elected office, there have been rumors of Lopez- who is reportedly battling cancer- making plans to run for the 34th City Council District seat held by Diana Reyna, who is term-limited and ineligible to run for re-election.
The 34th District covers Ridgewood generally south and west of Forest and Myrtle avenues as well as much of Bushwick, East Williamsburg and Williamsburg.