A.G. Schneiderman Announces Indictment Of NYC Nonprofit Director For Stealing Nearly $900k From Charity
Yolanda Gonzalez, Former Executive Director Of The South Bronx's Nos Quedamos, Charged With Thefts; Former CFO Also Arrested
Schneiderman: Stealing Charitable Dollars Harms Our Communities And Our Neighbors
NEW YORK - New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the arrest of Yolanda Gonzalez, the former Executive Director of We Stay-Nos Quedamos, Inc. ("Nos Quedamos"), on felony grand larceny and other charges for embezzling nearly $900,000 from the long-standing South Bronx-based nonprofit community development corporation. Joseph Ingenito, the former Chief Financial Officer of Nos Quedamos, was also arrested. He was charged with falsifying business records to help cover up the thefts. Gonzalez faces up to 15 years in prison. The accountant faces up to four years behind bars.
"While our not-for-profit sector is the strongest in our nation, it will only remain that way if we continue to root out despicable, corrupt behavior of this kind," Attorney General Schneiderman said. "I encourage the good actors in organizations like Nos Quedamos to stay vigilant and come forward if they suspect any individual of wrongdoing, as they did in this case. It's the best and most effective way to keep our not-for-profit sector healthy and honest."
According to the indictment unsealed today in Bronx County Supreme Court and statements made by prosecutors at the arraignments, the Attorney General's investigation revealed that Yolanda Gonzalez, 46, of the Bronx, stole the money from Nos Quedamos over a four-year period, from January 2007 to May 2011, by making withdrawals from the organization's bank accounts to pay her personal expenses - and even buy a car. Joseph Ingenito, 76, of Yonkers, who maintained the books and records for Nos Quedamos, misrepresented information contained in financial documents to help cover up the thefts.
The investigation commenced in early 2011 with a complaint from Nos Quedamos board members to the Attorney General's Charities Bureau about possible missing or misappropriated funds from Nos Quedamos bank accounts. The bureau uncovered evidence that hundreds of thousands of dollars had been embezzled from the nonprofit.
A community development organization focused on health, environment, sustainability, housing, and jobs, Nos Quedamos receives grants from several government agencies, including the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Gonzalez became Executive Director after her mother, Yolanda Garcia, who was a founding member of the organization, passed away in February 2005. Gonzalez served as the Executive Director of Nos Quedamos until early 2011, when she was suspended by the Board of Directors.
The Attorney General's indictment charges Gonzalez with embezzling funds from Nos Quedamos and two related entities, NQ Development, LLC, and NQ Management, Inc. According to statements made at arraignments, in addition to her salary of more than $70,000 per year, Gonzalez brazenly stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the nonprofit's bank accounts by writing checks to herself or to cash, making ATM withdrawals, and paying for personal expenses on corporate credit cards, including purchases at department stores, nail salons, jewelry stores, and movie theaters. She also purchased a new 2009 Toyota Sienna with stolen funds, at a cost of more than $29,000. To conceal the thefts, Gonzalez and Ingenito falsified Annual Financial Reports, balance sheets, and financial statements for Nos Quedamos and submitted them to the Board of Directors and the New York State Attorney General's Office.
Gonzalez is charged with one count of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (a class "C" felony), two counts of Attempted Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a class "E" felony), three counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree (a class "E" felony), and one count of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree (a class "E felony). Ingenito is charged with three counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree and one count of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree.
Gonzalez and Ingenito were arrested this morning and arraigned before the Honorable Judge Steven Barrett.
If convicted, Gonzalez faces a maximum sentence of 5 to 15 years in prison and Ingenito faces up to 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison. The charges against these defendants are allegations, and they are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
The Attorney General thanks the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal for its assistance in this case.
The investigation was handled by Investigator Sylvia Rivera, under Supervising Investigator Michael Ward, Deputy Chief of Investigations John McManus, Deputy Chief Investigator John Reidy, and Chief Dominick Zarella. Supervising Forensic Auditor Edward J. Keegan and Legal Analyst Mikael Awake assisted in the investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Gabriel Tapalaga and Arielle Singer of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton, Bureau Chief Gary Fishman and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan.