Two southeast Queens residents were charged with stealing nearly $20,000 intended for New York City’s summer youth program, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz and the city’s Department of Investigations.
Rahmello Poole, 27, of 141st Street in South Jamaica, and Mariah Moore, 23, of Dix Avenue in Far Rockaway, were arraigned Tuesday before Queens Criminal Court Judge Edwin Novillo on a 34-count complaint charging them with grand larceny, defrauding the government and other crimes for allegedly stealing funds that were intended for summer youth employees.
The pair, who worked at the Central Queens Y in 2018, allegedly filed bogus timesheets for non-active employees and then used the earnings deposited on debit cards for their own personal gain, prosecutors said.
According to the charges, in the summer of 2018, Poole worked as a worksite coordinator and Moore was his clerk. Poole’s duties included providing oversight for the teenagers’ work areas and processing their timesheets. In this role, Poole had access to debit cards that were used to pay the workers and the PIN numbers.
Moore, in her role as an administrative clerk, was responsible for organizing and entering the timesheets into the system’s payroll database. Debit cards were used to pay some of the workers in lieu of direct deposit into bank accounts.
“The funds allocated to the City’s Summer Youth Employment Program are intended to provide job opportunities to Queens teenagers as well as funding for literacy services, after-school programs and more,” Katz said. “As alleged, these defendants found a way to manipulate the system to enrich themselves by withdrawing funds from the debit cards and making point of sales transactions.”
Katz explained that an investigator with the Department of Investigation audited the records and found 13 youth workers who were registered with the program but were not actually employed in the summer of 2018. Yet, there were timesheets created for those participants and debit cards used to pay for the hours those young people supposedly worked.
Moore allegedly inputted the false work hours and Poole is accused of approving those timesheets.
According to the complaint, Poole loaded debit cards with $10,144 and allegedly withdrew $9,330 from ATMs for his own personal use and made a $56 point of sale transaction. Moore is accused of fraudulently uploading $8,043 and made ATM withdrawals totaling $7,582 and spent another $360 in point of sales transactions at various merchants.
“Thankfully, when the parents of the teenage participants received paperwork showing wages their children never received, they alerted the Central Queens Y,” DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett said. “The Central Queens Y double-checked and then notified the City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), and DYCD reported the financial discrepancies to DOI for further investigation.”
Judge Novillo ordered the defendants to return to court on Dec. 16. If convicted Poole and Moore face up to 2 to 7 years in prison.
“I want to thank the investigators with DOI for their hard work looking into this matter,” Katz said. “And let this be a warning for those who seek to cash in with crooked schemes, my office will continue to team up with our law enforcement partners to root out fraud and other illegal cons.”