Gloria Wise, New York Post, The Bronx
As Sleazeballs Go Nearly Unpunished, Bronx Locals Angry
There's a growing sense of outrage this weekend in the Bronx and it's not just about the performance of the post- season Yankees. Instead, the anger and disbelief relates to the sorry outcome of the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls scandal.
Between the now- disgraced inner city nonprofit and the liberal radio network that took $875,000 of its taxpayer- funded money, why won't anybody face jail time?
How could simply repaying some of the loot, in addition to a small fine, possibly be enough for a swindle that hurt so many inner- city children and elderly people?
And given the overwhelming amount of evidence against so many, why were only two people actually charged? Something stinks to high heaven here.
For all of the criticism the New York Post takes for its style and presentation of the news, in this case it truly deserves kudos for asking important questions that other area publications have ignored (including even the Wall Street Journal, which has strangely turned a blind eye to this mess since day one).
With both a story and editorial in Saturday's editions, the Post has thankfully taken up this important cause:
OUTRAGE AT CHARITY'S CROOKED WISE GUYS
By PATRICK WHITE and DAVID SEIFMAN
News that two former executives who admitted plundering the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club won't be spending even one day in jail was greeted by outrage yesterday at the Bronx non-profit and by residents of the community.
"That's a sore spot for me," said Frederick Lewis, the group's new leader.
"People go to jail for much less than that," fumed Lewis. "These people took advantage of the city and state. We have to let them know you don't get away with this . . . It's a disgrace."
Parents with kids in Gloria Wise's Co-op City day care center were also up in arms.
"I work so hard and I can barely make tuition," said doorman Vernon Rainford, 41, who has a 3-year-old at Gloria Wise.
"To hear people stealing without punishment, that's just not right."
The Department of Investigation reported Thursday that two officials - executive director Charles Rosen and deputy director Jeffrey Aulenbach - and three employees swiped $1.2 million from the charity over a period of years.
Most of the money - $875,000 - went toward an illegal loan for the Air America radio network.
But the corrupt officials also splurged on everything from a $34,500 Volvo convertible to home renovations and even bills for tennis.
Under a plea deal announced by state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, Rosen pleaded guilty to felony charges of grand larceny and forgery, and obstructing government administration, a misdemeanor.
Rosen's punishment: He has to repay $38,575 plus a $5,000 fine and is barred from working at a nonprofit for three years. He was accused of stealing $69,216.
Aulenbach pleaded guilty to the same charges, excluding the forgery count, and is repaying $32,363 plus a $5,000 fine. He was accused of pocketing $87,371.
The Post follows it up with this well- written editorial, excerpted here:
WISE GUYS GET A PASS
Six officials of the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club stole $1.2 million from the group, money meant for needy kids and seniors, a city probe has found. Investigations Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn calls it "disgusting" - the worst case of wrongdoing by a non-profit contractor she's seen since taking office.
Thank goodness the thieves will be going to jail for a very long time - and paying back every cent, and then some.
Well, actually, that's not quite true.
In fact, nobody is going to jail.
Not even for a single day.
And the crooks get to keep most of the cash they stole. Four weren't even charged, and after a few brief years, the two who were charged can return to nonprofit work - to loot again, perhaps.
For that wrist tap, thank Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, whose office prosecuted the case.
Something is wrong with this picture.
Hearn was right to label the shenanigans "disgusting." Her report said fraud "was an accepted way of doing business" for these execs. "Rather than reflecting actual events," the group's records "were made to say whatever suited the executives' purposes." Want details?
* Under their direction, the group improperly gave $875,000 to left-wing Air America radio (which features comedian Al Franken) while a Gloria Wise exec maintained a financial stake in it.
* Officials "improperly obtained more than $290,000 in income that was untaxed, on top of already generous salaries - and much of it stolen from government agencies."
* They used the money to buy themselves cars (two BMWs and a Volvo), fix up their homes and pay for tennis expenses, parking and personal insurance, among other things.
* Most alarming was their falsification of student medical records to fool the Health Department into thinking the kids had gotten vaccines and medical exams.
Meanwhile, the Air America team has the nerve to rail against the "Bush crime family". Why should they have any credibility?
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Images: David A Lunde for the Radio Equalizer