A.G. Schneiderman And Comptroller DiNapoli Announce Indictments Of Four In Member Item Theft Scheme

A.G. Schneiderman And Comptroller DiNapoli Announce Indictments Of Four In Member Item Theft Scheme

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced the indictments of four individuals accused of participating in a scheme to pocket taxpayer dollars intended for public services in New York City. A groundbreaking public integrity initiative between the Offices of the Attorney General and State Comptroller exposed a nonprofit set up by New York State Senator Shirley L. Huntley that funneled member item funds to those associated with it, including the senator’s aide and an individual who shares a residence with the senator.

According to Attorney General Schneiderman’s indictment, the president and treasurer of the Parent Workshop, Inc., submitted fraudulent documents to New York State to obtain public money from a legislative member item. Instead of providing the promised programs, the two defendants pocketed approximately $29,950. Two additional defendants were charged with falsifying documents to cover up the theft once the investigation commenced.

Since 1999, the New York State Legislature has distributed more than $900 million through legislative member items to more than 20,000 nonprofit entities.

“This personal profit-making scheme defrauded taxpayers, all the while depriving communities of much-needed funds. Now it's time to hold those behind it accountable,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “The charges announced today send a strong message that those who abuse their positions to rip off taxpayers will be prosecuted. My office’s partnership with the Comptroller is designed to combat such corruption, and we will continue to work tirelessly to protect every penny of taxpayer money during these challenging economic times.”

“Taking money intended for families in need is unconscionable,” State Comptroller DiNapoli said.  “Abuse and fraud will not be tolerated. By combining forces, my office and the Attorney General have exposed and are prosecuting this egregious theft of state funds which were intended for the public good.”

The charges accuse Patricia D. Savage, the nonprofit’s president and Senator Huntley’s aide, as well as Lynn H. Smith, the nonprofit’s treasurer and an individual who shares a residence with the senator, of engaging in a fraudulent scheme to steal member item funds. The defendants falsely asserted that Parent Workshop, Inc. would use the member item funds secured by Senator Huntley to hold workshops for and conduct outreach to parents on the workings of the New York City public school system.

Instead, the indictment alleges that Ms. Savage and Ms. Smith never intended to hold any such events.  Furthermore, the indictment alleges that they falsely asserted in multiple submissions to the New York State Department of State that, from April 2008 through March 2009, the Parent Workshop had held workshops and conducted outreach, when no such workshops were ever held and no such outreach was ever conducted.  Based on these submissions, the Department of State provided $29,950 to the Parent Workshop – the sum the two defendants are charged with stealing.

According to the indictment, Ms. Savage and Ms. Smith submitted a fraudulent contract and five fake vouchers to illegally obtain that money.  Each is charged with 11 total counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree.

The indictment also alleges that after the Attorney General’s Office issued a subpoena to the Parent Workshop, defendant David R. Gantt falsified records in an effort to claim that he was paid in cash for conducting workshops as a consultant. In fact, he never conducted any workshops.  Mr. Gantt is charged with four counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree. 

Defendant Roger N. Scotland, the President of the Southern Queens Park Association, a separate nonprofit corporation located in Queens, also created a false record in an attempt to hide the theft from investigators.  Mr. Scotland is charged with Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, Tampering with Physical Evidence, and conspiracy to engage in those crimes.

The joint investigation began after contact with the New York State Department of State. 

Prosecuting the case are Senior Counsel Emily Bradford and Assistant Attorney General Jerrold Steigman, under the supervision of Public Integrity Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz, Chief William E. Schaeffer, and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Nancy Hoppock.  The joint investigation was conducted the Comptroller’s Bureau of State Expenditures and Legal Services Division’s Investigations Unit.

The charges are merely accusations and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Anyone with additional information on this matter or any other public corruption is encouraged to contact the Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-996-4630 or the Comptroller’s office by dialing the toll-free fraud hotline at 1-888-672-4555; filing a complaint online at investigations@osc.state.ny.us; or mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller Investigations Unit, 110 State Street, 14th floor, Albany, NY 12236.