By Joe Anuta
A Corona volunteer ambulance service said it may have to close shop after state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced last week three former board members allegedly stole more than $300,000 from the nonprofit to fund lavish vacations and meals.
Daniel Dominguez, 37, is accused of stealing more than $300,000 from the Corona Community Volunteer Ambulance Corps and using the cash for extravagant jaunts to Walt Disney World and Niagara Falls as well as expensive feasts, the AG said in a Sept. 19 release.
Then Dominguez allegedly helped another member, Daryl Adeva, 31, to skim $8,960 from the ambulance corps, according to Schneiderman.
Even the service’s one-time president, David Moretti, 41, partook in the fleecing, the AG said. The leader allegedly stole more than $11,000 between September 2008 and May 2011 for car payments and overseas money transfers, Schneiderman said.
The ambulance service released a statement in the wake of the trio’s indictment indicating the nonprofit may have to shut down as a result.
“The discovery that our funds were misappropriated caused us a great amount of anguish as we have labored to continue serving the community over the last two years,” the service said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, not only were our funds misappropriated, but we believe many of our relationships with organizations that we provided EMS services to were sabotaged. The financial strain we are now under requires us to seriously consider dissolution or sell our building and streamline our services,” the corps said.
The three former members were charged with various degrees of theft in Queens Supreme Court, the attorney general said. If convicted, Dominguez would face up to five to 15 years behind bars, while Adeva and Moretti would face as much as 2 1/2 to seven years. Dominguez and Adeva were being held on bail.
The organization gets its money through a variety of sources, including donations, insurance reimbursements and taxpayer-funded reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid.
According to financial filings with the attorney general’s office, the total amount allegedly skimmed by the former board members is roughly equal to the organization’s annual revenue in some years.
“These emergency medical technicians, who were entrusted with providing medical services and transportation for New York residents, instead took advantage of their positions and used a not-for-profit ambulance corps as their own personal piggy bank,” Schneiderman said. “My office will continue to weed out theft and fraud in charitable organizations and prosecute criminals who take advantage of the public’s trust.”
The remaining members of the organization have been trying to reestablish that trust.
In its statement, it detailed some of the work EMTs have done in the community aside from their everyday work, like responding during Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, saving a life at Citi Field and hosting blood drives and toy drives.
“Our organization is now on life support and we are in need of the support of our community and our city if we are to survive this month, let alone this year,” the organization said.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.