Claddagh Under Fire For Selling Donations, Health Concerns
The Claddagh Inn is under fire once again. Several former employees have levied fresh allegations of illegal profiting by the food kitchen’s director, Tony Job. Among the claims is that Job profits by selling donated clothing, food, cars and furniture far from Rockaway.
"I drove up to the Bronx in my truck where we sold clothes for thirty cents a pound," says former employee Mohammed Diallo. "I got two checks for more than $4,000. Then Tony shorted me on gas money and my wages."
Diallo says that Job put the money into his pocket.
Truck driver Adrian Carter claims that Job did not pay him for cleaning Claddagh Inn. "I did $700 worth of labor and never got any money," he said.
Carter also believes that Job is using the Claddagh’s status as a charitable organization to line his own pockets. "He (Job) shouldn’t use the not-for-profit status to shield his intention to make a profit," Carter argues.
Another former employee, Eric Cunningham, told The Wave that he believes that more people who deal regularly with Job would come forward, but that they won’t criticize him because, "They are afraid that their food will get cut off."
"A lot of people want to make a complaint, especially the senior citizens," he added.
Job, who has run the Claddagh Inn since 1988, refutes all of the claims.
"This is a whole lot of rubbish. I’m surprised that people can make allegations and falsehoods to get media attention."
As for their status as former employees, Job maintains that they volunteered their services. "Why would these guys expect to get paid at a soup kitchen?"
With $5,000 in monthly debts to pay, Job claims that money he makes selling clothing and food is spent on the Claddagh Inn. "We have a lot of bills to pay down here. Everything we get is from the people of Rockaway."
While the Claddagh Inn continues to serve 91,000 meals a year and to provide clothing to people in need, several area food banks have chosen to end their associations with Job.
"The Food Bank NYC has inactivated the Claddagh Inn since May of this year because we discovered they were transferring a food product to another organization," says Food Bank NYC communications director, Lisa Jakobsberg.
And, while the Claddagh was associated for many years with the Interfaith Nutrition Network (INN), that association has been terminated as well.
"We ended our relationship with the Claddagh Inn because they could not comply with our standards for food handling and record keeping," says Tony Childs of the Interfaith Nutrition Network (INN).
New York City authorities tend to agree with the food networks.
A recent health inspection of the Claddagh Inn on October 16 noted six critical violations of the City’s Department of Health guidelines.
Evidence of live mice, roaches, flies, severely dented cans and improper food heating are documented in the five-page report. Also included in the inspection was "excessive unused clothing," "scattered trash," and "plumbing not properly maintained."
While complaints by former employees mount, people who frequent his soup kitchen praise Job.
"You always come away with something extra from the Tuesday hot lunches," says Maureen Clerke, who pushes her shopping cart more than a mile and a half twice a week for food at the Claddagh Inn. "He always gives you bread or cake or muffins."
At the moment, Job is more concerned with the Claddagh Inn’s long-term survival than the allegations. A two-story recreation center is set to take the Inn’s place, as the city will soon transfer the property to the new Arverne By The Sea development.
"The cost of moving is significant but the Claddagh Inn will continue," Job promises.