Former City Council candidate accused of forging campaign donations

By Gina Martinez

A young, aspiring Queens politician has been charged with falsifying documents during her failed City Council campaign for the seat now held by City Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens).

Bellerose resident, Celia Dosamantes, 25, was a candidate in the 2015 special election to represent the 23rd Council District, which covers Little Neck, Douglaston, Bayside, Fresh Meadows and Bellerose, as well as several other neighborhoods.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office indicted Dosamantes for allegedly forging 32 contribution cards that totaled $3,222 in a bid to obtain matching funds. The city’s matching funds program allows candidates to match donations from city residents at a rate of $6 for every $1 raised. Dosamantes’ fictitious donations would have added up to $19,530 in taxpayer dollars if her attempt had gone through, the indictment said.

If convicted, she faces two to seven years on charges of filing a false instrument and grand larceny.

The city Campaign Finance Board requires that campaigns report all of their financial activity along with supporting documentation, which includes checks and contribution cards. On Aug. 6, 2015 and Aug. 10, 2015 Dosamantes submitted contributions to be matched by the CBF, and in doing so verified that the submissions were true and correct, according to the indictment. The filings contained dozens of forged contribution cards that were digitally altered, making it appear that certain donors donated to her campaign twice, the DA said. All of the donors were able to confirm they did not make the donations reflected on the falsified documents,according to the indictment.

Dosamantes was caught during a visit to her home by the CFB toward the end of August 2015. According to the indictment, Dosamantes attempted to conceal the contribution cards in a folder on her lap during the visit.

Dosamantes stated several times to the Campaign Finance Board that she was responsible for handling cash contributions, according to the indictment. The campaign’s financial records were mostly kept in her Queens home, where she maintained control over them.

When a search warrant was issued, several computers were seized that revealed copies of dozens of forged contribution cards and browser history that shows multiple visits to the CFB website, where disclosure statements were filed, the indictment said.

Dosamantes previously worked as an aide to state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) and U.S. Rep. Grace Meng(D-Flushing). She attended Francis Lewis High School and received her bachelor’s degree from SUNY Albany. She was attempting to finish law school at St. John’s University. During her campaign for City Council she ran on a platform that emphasized reducing overcrowding in high schools and expanding transportation services for seniors.

“I came from the neighborhood, I grew up here and I want the leadership to reflect the diversity of the community and my platform is for everybody,” she told the TimesLedger in an interview during the run-up to the six-way Democratic primary.

Bob Friedrich, Rebecca Lynch, Ali Najmi and Satnam Singh Parhar were also candidates in the primary won by Grodenchik.

Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmartinez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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