Gloria Wise Executives Indicted, Air America Radio
Two Former Nonprofit Execs Arrested Over $$$ Diversions
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Finally, some accountability in the Bronx, even if it isn't nearly enough.
After over a year of damning revelations regarding the fishy 2004 transfer of $875,000 in taxpayer funds from the former Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club to the liberal Air America Radio Network, the New York City Department of Investigation has announced the first two indictments in this case.
According to news reports tonight, two former club executives, Charles Rosen and Jeffrey Aulenbach, have been busted for allegedly misappropriating $1.2m in public funds, with the lion's share related to the Air America scam.
To see the DOI's very lengthy findings in PDF form, click here and here.
From CBS News:
Charge: Charity Funds Diverted To Air America
Authorities Say Money Meant For Boys And Girls Club Went To Liberal Radio Network 'Air America'
(CBS/AP/DOI) NEW YORK Two former executives at a government-funded youth organization whose finances were scrutinized after it diverted money to the liberal radio network Air America were charged Thursday with misappropriating $1.2 million of the non-profit's funds.
Charles Rosen, a former executive director at the Gloria Wise Comm- unity Center, and his former assistant director, Jeffrey Aulenbach, face charges of grand larceny and obstructing governmental administration. Rosen was also charged with forgery.
New York City's Department of Investigation, which investigated the nonprofit for two years, said the men improperly took more than $290,000 from the organization for their personal use, on top of their already unusually large salaries.
The money -- described in the non-profit's books as business expenses -- went to pay for home renovations and furnishings and new cars, among other things, according to a Department of Investigation report released Thursday.
City investigators said the pair also improperly transferred $875,000 to Air America, which was co-founded by one of Gloria Wise's executives.
At the time, the Gloria Wise center ran a school and youth programs in the Bronx, and was affiliated with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, but most of its money came from government grants and contracts.
The public disclosure of the club's "loan" to Air America prompted heavy criticism and charges of hypocrisy from conservativecommentators in 2005.
Air America blamed the transaction on its former chairman, Evan Montvel-Cohen, who was ousted in 2004 amid questions over the validity of his investments in the network.
Funny, that CBS headline makes it appear that these allegations are new, doesn't it? Here's a trip down memory lane for our MSM friends.
And here's a fresh story from the New York Times:
A city invest- igation has uncov- ered wide- spread fraud and mis- manage- ment by a 21-year-old Bronx charity that received $9 million a year in city contracts to help children and elderly people.
The charity’s top employees misused $290,000 for personal expenses, like home renovations, furniture and the purchase of a Volvo and a BMW, and its longtime executive director created off- the- books bank accounts, under the guise of supporting youth athletic programs, to give himself and others tens of thousands of dollars in bonuses, according to the city’s Department of Investigation.
Charles Rosen, 63, the former executive director, and Jeffrey Aulenbach, 46, the former deputy director for operations, were arrested and charged today with grand larceny and obstruction of governmental administration. Mr. Rosen, a fixture of Co-op City and a former chairman of the company that manages the giant housing cooperative, was also charged with forgery.
Both men, who resigned last year from the charity, the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club, were expected to plead guilty this afternoon, in State Supreme Court in the Bronx, under an agreement with the state attorney general’s office, which is prosecuting the case.
The investigation, which began with an anonymous tip in 2004, gained momentum last year when it was revealed that the charity had improperly lent $875,000 to Air America Radio, a network known for its liberal programming and its most prominent host, Al Franken, the comedian, actor and writer.
The city immediately cut off payments to the charity and its affiliates, which relied on public money for nearly 80 percent of their budgets.
Two officials at Gloria Wise were directly involved in the radio network, according to the investigation, One of them, Sinohe Terrero, resigned as the charity’s fiscal director in 2003 to join Air America, while the other, Evan Montvel-Cohen, a former fund-raiser for the charity, was instrumental in securing the loans to the network.
Why haven't any past or present Air America executives been indicted, you might ask? Remember, this case is now in the hands of the Criminal Division of the New York State Attorney General's office, so further news developments on this front are a certainty (actually, maybe not, see update below). Given the sheer volume of evidence that the DOI has collected, it's quite curious that former Air America exec Evan Cohen wasn't yet among those indicted, for example.
NOTE TO UNHINGED MOONBATS: we have never accused Al Franken of being involved in the loan swindle itself, what we did prove was that Franken knew about it before he claimed on the air and that he pushed for a huge raise while the company was trying to figure out how to handle the mess, before it became public.
MAJOR UPDATE from this morning's New York Post:
October 6, 2006 -- Managers of the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club in The Bronx looted the charity and used $1.2 million in taxpayer money for luxury cars, home renovations and start-up cash for lefty radio network Air America, a two-year investigation has found.
The bombshell probe by the city Department of Investigation was made public yesterday as two of Gloria Wise's top former officials took a no-jail plea deal - admitting in Bronx Supreme Court they stole as much as $150,000 from programs meant for kids, the elderly and the disabled.
In all, investigators found that six former Gloria Wise officials took $290,000 to pay for their personal expenses - on top of excessively generous salaries.
Investigations Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn called the misuse of public money "disgusting, and that's why we felt so strongly about it."
Hearn said charges were brought only against Charles Rosen and Jeffrey Aulenbach because evidence against them was strongest.
Rosen agreed to pay $38,575 in restitution, and Aulenbach will pay $32,363. Both men were slapped with $5,000 fines, and they are barred from working for not-for-profit agencies for three years - but they face no jail time.
"We believe it's an appropriate punishment," said Spitzer spokeswoman Juanita Scarlett.
Rosen was also hit with a forgery charge after city investigators caught him trying to support the transfer of $875,000 to Air America in 2004 by faking documents to back up his claim that it was a loan made with the approval of the Gloria Wise board.
The "loan" was made at the behest of Evan Montvel Cohen, a principal in the Air America start-up.
Cohen simultaneously held a $91,000-a-year no-show job as Gloria Wise's development-fund-raising director. But he did not raise any money for Gloria Wise, the probe found.
By late 2003, after a year on the job, he "was performing few functions" and "was apparently rarely present," although he continued to be paid as a full-time employee, according to Hearn. Cohen resigned from Gloria Wise in 2004.
And the probe shockingly disclosed that the club wasn't only ripping off the city - it was also forging health reports to prove that kids in its nursery school were getting essential vaccinations.
Corva and several teachers at the club doctored forms to pass annual Health Department audits, investigators say.
"They just dummied them up," Hearn said of medical forms mandated by state and city law.
She said the Goose Bay Nursery staff forged doctors' signatures rather than fail an audit and possibly lose the club's funding for school programs.
"When a child's medical record was missing, they copied and altered another child's form," the report said. (TOM TOPOUSIS)
Also, see New York Daily News coverage here.
The latest revelations here are really sick and the punishment seems very, very light. It's astounding that no one from Air America Radio will likely face any charges, especially given the evidence against Montvel- Cohen and Sinohe Terrero. Is this a gift from Albany?
Watch for Air America's usual spin today, that these execs were part of a previous ownership regime. Because it's really been a shell game, with many of the same people moving in and out of roles in the operation, that's not true. In addition, Terrero, whose name is all over the DOI's report, remained as Air America's CFO or in an ongoing consulting role until the beginning of 2006!
In addition, keep in mind that Franken & Co have reaped the benefits of this start-up ca$h, which was taken from children and the elderly, then used to get Air America Radio off the ground. To this day, not one Air America personality has ever apologized for this sick scam. Even if they were unaware at the time, when they did learn about it later, they either said nothing or promoted the sleazy company line. So much for credibility.
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