2010-04-09 / Top Stories

Federal Grand Jury Eyeing Queens Pols

Smith, Meeks, Flake In Spotlight
By Howard Schwach

A federal grand jury is zeroing in on the activities of a number of powerful political players from Queens, including two who represent Rockaway – Congressman Gregory Meeks and New York State Senate President Pro Tempore Malcolm Smith.

Sources say that the grand jury is investigating whether the politicians used a web of non-profits and charter schools to benefit their families, friends and themselves.

The Manhattan based prosecutors have reportedly subpoenaed documents related to the Peninsula Preparatory Academy in Arverne and the Merrick Academy in Jamaica, two charter schools founded by Smith in which Meeks is also involved; a lavish home in Jamaica built by Meeks; as well as The New Direction Local Development Corporation, a non-profit started by Smith and Meeks, which has received large amounts of both public and private money at the direction of Smith.

On Tuesday, the Daily News ran a story that says the federal grand jury, under the public corruption branch of the U.S. Attorney’s office, is also looking at a large multi-family home owned by Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and the empire developed by the Reverend Floyd Flake, who was once Rockaway’s congressman and is a political mentor for both Meeks and Smith.

In addition, the News reported, the feds are also looking at attorney Joan Flowers, who was once the campaign treasurer for both Meeks and Smith and seems to be intertwined with many of their operations.

Smith’s top gun Albany attorney, Gerald Shargel, told News’ reporters Kenneth Lovett, Barbara Ross and Greg Smith, the paper’s I-Team, that the feds could subpoena any documents they wanted, that they would not find any criminality.

“They’re not going to find any wrongdoing on the part of Malcolm Smith,” he told the reporters.

Smith was at The Wave office last week to “touch base,” but declined to comment on any of the probes whirling around his activities.

“I’ll get back to you when I have the time, and we’ll sit down,” he told Wave editors.

They are still awaiting his call.

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