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Post date: December 5 2014

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Conviction Of NYC Nonprofit Director Who Stole Nearly $900k From Charity

Yolanda Gonzalez, Former Director Of Nos Quedamos, Convicted Of Grand Larceny And Fraud, Sentenced To Up To 4.5 Years In Prison

Schneiderman: New York’s Not-For-Profit Sector Will Only Remain The Strongest In The Nation If We Continue To Root Out Despicable, Corrupt Behavior

NEW YORK – New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the felony conviction of Yolanda Gonzalez, the former Executive Director of We Stay-Nos Quedamos, Inc., for embezzling nearly $900,000 from the long-standing South Bronx-based nonprofit community development corporation. The Attorney General's investigation revealed that Yolanda Gonzalez, 46, of the Bronx, stole the money from Nos Quedamos by making withdrawals from the organization's bank accounts to pay her personal expenses, including a new car. Her former business partner, Joseph Ingenito, was also convicted for helping Gonzalez attempt to cover-up the thefts.

“New York’s not-for-profit sector will only remain the strongest in the nation if we continue to root out despicable, corrupt behavior like this,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “This case started with Nos Quedamos board members alerting my office to suspicious activity. I encourage the good actors in any organization to stay vigilant and come forward if they suspect wrongdoing. It’s the best and most effective way to keep our nonprofit sector healthy and honest.” 

“In addition to theft, this individual’s conviction reflects guilt of a range of tax-related felonies – revenue crimes that deprive state and local governments of resources needed to provide critical services,” said New York State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Thomas H. Mattox. “We will continue to work with Attorney General Schneiderman and other law enforcement partners to prosecute those who would attempt to evade taxes.”

A community development organization focused on health, environment, sustainability, affordable 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 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. 

Gonzalez embezzled funds from Nos Quedamos and two related entities, NQ Development, LLC, and NQ Management, Inc.  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 also failed to file taxes on her illicit income, resulting in tax liability totaling over $64,948.

Gonzalez pleaded guilty yesterday evening before the Honorable Judge Steven Barrett in Bronx County Supreme Court to Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a Class C felony, and Criminal Tax Fraud in the Third Degree, a Class D felony.  She will be sentenced on January 13, 2015 to 1 ½ to 4 ½ years in prison on the Grand Larceny charge and 1 to 3 years in prison on the Tax Fraud charge.  As a condition of her plea, she must also sign confessions of judgment in favor of We Stay-Nos Quedamos in the amount of $886,613.24 and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance in the amount of $64,948.

Joseph Ingenito, the former Chief Financial Officer of Nos Quedamos, was convicted of two counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, a Class E felony, for misrepresenting information in financial documents to help cover up the thefts.   He will be sentenced on February 6, 2015 to 6 months of house arrest and five years probation.

The Attorney General thanks the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance and the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal for their assistance in this case.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Gabriel Tapalaga of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau.  The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Gary T. Fishman and Deputy Bureau Chiefs Stephanie Swenton and Meryl Lutsky.  The Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice is Kelly Donovan.

The investigation was handled by Investigator Sylvia Rivera, Supervising Investigator Michael Ward and Deputy Chief of Investigations John McManus. Supervising Forensic Auditor Edward J. Keegan also assisted in the investigation. The Investigations Division is led by Chief Dominick Zarrella.