2008-08-15 / Top Stories

Chapey Named To Workers' Comp Board

By Howard Schwach

Geraldine M. Chapey, right, with Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a past Rockaway St. Patrick's Day Parade.
Democratic District Leader Geraldine M. Chapey, longtime local political activist, has been appointed by Governor David Paterson and confirmed by the State Senate to become a member of the state's Workers' Compensation Board, The Wave has learned.

Chapey, who has been under investigation by The Wave since May in connection with her non-profit "Chapey's Trinity Services," will receive a statutory salary of $90,800 per year, said Brian Keegan, a spokesperson for the board, who confirmed the fact that she had been appointed to the prestigious position.

Keegan declined to detail the requirements for becoming a member of the board, but did say, "The members of the board must devote their entire time to the duties of their office and many not practice in their respective professions or callings. Therefore, commissioners cannot have any outside employment."

"There is nothing in the statute that defines the qualifications for the job," Keegan added.

Keegan added that, under the state's ethics law, members of an commission in which at least one member is appointed by the Governor, cannot hold a political position, including district leader.

He was unsure, however, whether or not Chapey could keep control of her non-profit organization, which transports senior citizens, who pay $7 for the ride, to cultural and civic events.

"If she draws a salary from the nonprofit, then she clearly cannot do that any longer," Keegan said. "If she does not draw a salary, then she can most likely keep her involvement."

Local political watchers say that they expect that Chapey will end her party involvement and turn the nonprofit organization over to somebody else, most likely her husband, Eugene Pasternak, who once shared his security office with his wife's non-profit, but now has his own office next door on Rockaway Beach Boulevard.

Over the past 15 years, the senior citizens' transportation company run by Chapey has drawn more than $1,000,000 from the public coffers, public records disclose.

While $950,000 of the money came from the Department for the Aging, additional funds were awarded to her by the Department of Youth and Community Development for running youth and intergenerational programs.

An additional undisclosed amount of money was also provided to her organziation over that period of time in member item money by local politicians such as City Councilman Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. and Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer.

A spokesperson for the state's Attorney General's office provided one yearly statement to The Wave after a Freedom of Information Law request was made to that agency.

That filing did not list a salary for Chapey, or anybody else, although it did say that the non-profit had five employees. It failed to list those employees, although it is required by law for all non-profits to do so.

The Wave is awaiting copies of the contracts that her company has had with the Department for the Aging. A Freedom of Information Law request was filed with that agency more than a month ago.

A spokesperson for State Senator Malcolm Smith, who has provided member item money to "Chapey's Trinity Services," and who serves as the Senate Minority Leader, declined to comment on why Chapey had been chosen for the position and what qualifications she had for the job.

Smith has provided approximately $5,000 a year to Chapey's organization over the past several years, and Chapey is among the group of Democratic politicians that has to vet Smith for reelection.

One local Democratic political activist, who asked not to be identified while speaking on sensitive party affairs, said that the move was made to reward Chapey for her past political duties and to get her "out of the line of fire from The Wave."

The activist said that it is widely believed that Chapey will resign her political post as early as September.

Repeated calls to Chapey for comment on her appointment, as well as on her qualifications for her new position, went unreturned.

The 13 board members, called commissioners, each serve for a seven-year term.

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