2009-11-13 / Top Stories

Chapey's City Funding Dries Up

By Howard Schwach

Chapey's van is sometimes used to transport seniors around the city. Chapey's van is sometimes used to transport seniors around the city. The City Council and the city's Department for the Aging (DFA) have turned off the money spigot that provided Democratic District Leader Geraldine Chapey and her non-profit senior transportation program, Trinity Senior Services, with more than a million dollars over the past ten years.

"Although the New York City Council allocated funding for Trinity Senior Services for fiscal year 2009, Trinity failed to complete the application process. Accordingly, Trinity did not receive any funding that was administered by the Department for the Aging," said agency spokesperson Maureen Murphy, its General Coun - sel. "The council did not award Trinity any funds for fiscal year 2010."

Chapey was questioned extensively during the February special election race, in which she was a City Council candidate, about her non-profit and how the money allocated by the city was spent, and she angered many voters by refusing to reveal Trinity's expenditures.

Many believe that her refusal to tell where the money went cost her the election, which was eventually won by Republican Eric Ulrich.

Records recently provided by the Department for the Aging under a Freedom of Information request, show a corner of the Chapey organization, which utilizes one 14-seat bus to provide transportation for senior citizens.

Some of the questions she refused to answer revolved around how much she personally earned from administering the program, how many runs the van made each year and how much was spent on expenditures other than for the transportation.

The documents received by The Wave this week under the FOIL request may begin to answer some of those questions.

For example, the records reveal that the 2009 Council Local Initiative, money provided by local city politicians through the agency, allocated $60 an hour as her salary and that she was budgeted for 334 hours - about six and a half hours each week, for a total of $21,840 in 2007.

Records show that the $60 salary that Chapey was granted by the city agency in 2009 is about the average she earned over the past five years, and that additional money was provided to her under other grants from other city agencies such as Youth and Community Development. She also received money in the form of member item funds from a number of local politicians.

A review of contracts between Chapey and DFA since 2001 reveals that she has received more than a million dollars from that agency in addition to what she has received from politicians under the member item program.

State and city records that cover the past five years show that legislators such as Joseph P. Addabbo (when he was our City Councilman), Assembly - woman Audrey Pheffer and State Senator Malcolm Smith regularly provided member item money to Chapey, ranging from $10,000 to $60,000 a year, money that was outside of the Department for the Aging expenditures to Chapey.

For all that money, the city did little to check Chapey's program to ascertain whether or not she was actually fulfilling her contract.

Agency records show that the city sporadically made visits to check up on Chapey's program over the past ten years, sometimes checking on whether the money was being properly spent once a year and in many years not checking at all.

Yet, she constantly received a "satisfactory" rating from the agency and was routinely funded for the following year.

While the agency gave Chapey a clean bill of health year after year, there are some expenditures that are troubling to locals who have reviewed the paperwork.

For example, Trinity Senior Services has a storefront office at 104-02 Rock - away Beach Boulevard, directly next door to the offices of her husband's security service.

Records show that Chapey has three other employees, one of whom is the driver of the van, who, records show, earns $10 an hour for 800 hours a year, or roughly $8,000. That means the driver works an average of 15 hours a week, which provides an indication of how often the van is used.

The other two employees work in the office. One earns $36,000 a year; the other is part time, earning only $11,000 a year.

Some wonder why, then, Chapey needs six computers for her office.

On July 5, 2006, she received ap - prov al to purchase a Lenovo Laptop Computer from the Ramco Computer Corporation for $1,750.00. On the same date, she received approval to purchase five Intel Pentium desk-top computers from the same company at a cost of $7,025.

The laptop required no bids, but the cost of the five desk-top computers required bids, which were reviewed and approved by the Department for the Aging supervisor.

In December of 2007, Chapey sent a letter to the Mayor asking for support and funding for a second van.

In that letter, she asked for an additional $60,000 for the van, an additional $75,000 for vehicle costs such as insurance and maintenance and an additional $129,000 in salaries.

She was notified that she had to go through the Request for Proposal process in order to get more funding.

We can find no evidence that she ever did.

After she lost the special election for City Council, Chapey dropped from sight and her office on Rockaway Beach Boulevard remains shuttered.

She still refuses to speak with The Wave about the money and how it is spent.

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