A.G. Schneiderman Announces Guilty Plea In Half-million Dollar Embezzlement Scheme From Bronx Charities

Fiscal Officer For Public-Funded Nonprofits Admitted To 8 Year Embezzlement Scheme

Schneiderman: My Office Will Continue To Prosecute Those Who Abuse The Public Trust To The Fullest Extent Of The Law

NEW YORK - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the guilty plea of Clement I. Gardner, 64, of the Bronx, on charges that he embezzled more than half a million dollars from two taxpayer-funded Bronx charities over an eight-year period.

“The defendant used two publicly funded Bronx organizations like his personal piggy bank, diverting more than a half million dollars earmarked for services for needy New Yorkers in just over eight years,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “My office has zero tolerance for those who abuse the public trust for personal gain, and will continue to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.”

Gardner pled guilty to the felony charge of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, under the second count of the indictment filed against him. The indictment alleges that Gardner stole approximately $560,000 in public and charitable assets while serving as fiscal officer for two related Bronx not-for-profit corporations, Christian Community Benevolent Association, Inc. (CCBA) and Christian Community in Action (CCIA). Between December 31, 2003 and February 12, 2012, Gardner wrote numerous checks to himself from CCBA and CCIA bank accounts and then falsified business records to conceal his crimes.

Today, Justice Steven Barrett accepted Gardner’s guilty plea in Bronx County Supreme Court. In exchange for his guilty plea, Gardner will be sentenced on March 20, 2013 to two to six years in state prison. At sentencing, Justice Barrett will enter an order of restitution for $560,000.

The prosecution proceeded following an investigation undertaken in cooperation with the New York City Department of Investigation.

The vast majority of CCIA’s funding came from taxpayers. CCIA received tens of millions of dollars annually from Medicaid for providing home health services to needy Bronx residents. CCBA similarly relied on public grants, reaping roughly $495,000 in legislative member item grants in 2006 and 2007.

Until his March 13, 2012 arrest by the Office of the Attorney General, Gardner served as fiscal officer for both CCBA, which provides recreational and educational opportunities to Bronx children and seniors, and CCIA, which provided home health services to the disabled and elderly. Gardner managed the finances of both organizations, maintained their expense records, and administered their bank accounts.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Simon Brandler and Wanda Perez-Maldonado, under the supervision of Public Integrity Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz, Chief William E. Schaeffer, and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan.

The Attorney General recognizes the diligent work of the OAG staff with whose cooperation the case developed, particularly John Serrapica, OAG Supervising Investigator and Forensic Accountant, Investigator Gerard Matheson, Forensic Accountant Akeel Uddin, and former Analyst Benjamin Zaitchik. The prosecution proceeds from a referral from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Attorney General also recognizes the assistance of the New York City Department of Investigation, including key contributions by Special Investigator/Forensic Accountant Kerasha Campbell, Chief Forensic Auditor Ivette Morales, and Inspector General Chanterelle Sung.

Anyone with additional information on this matter or any other public corruption is encouraged to contact the Attorney General’s Office at (800) 996-4630.

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