RDRC Joins Smith In Money Deal For Druggies
State Senator Malcolm Smith, who has attempted to push large amounts of public money into a nonprofit anti-drug program that is run by two convicted drug dealers, has now brought the Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation into the mix, state officials say.
Earlier this year, Smith selected the King of Kings Foundation, which is run by ex-con brothers Lance and Todd Feurtado, to receive a $500,000 grant under his $4 million anti-violence, anti-drug, anti-gang program that he calls Operation SNUG.
Smith announced Operation SNUG at a Rockaway press conference two years ago.
A Daily News story about King of Kings published at the time called the organization “barely existent,” and run out of the Jamaica apartment of Lance Feurtado. When the state’s justice division balked at giving the money to the unproven program, however, Smith, who is under investigation by both state and federal officials for a variety of reasons, went looking for a respectable organization to funnel the money to the duo and to keep a check on how the money is spent.
Enter the Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation, which has offices in Far Rockaway.
Under a deal arranged by Smith’s office, the RDRC will serve as the “fiscal management and oversight office” for the King of Kings Foundation.
John Caher, a spokesperson for the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services, told the Daily News that the foundation “didn’t have any experience and didn’t have a track record.”
As for the RDRC, Caher said, “It’s a well-established organization. With [the RDRC] in charge of the business management, we feel more comfortable.”
The $500,000 funding is on top of a $25,000 grant Smith sought for the duo in 2008 and $290,000 in federal funding steered to the organization by Congressman Gregory Meeks.
The foundation was lauded in a promotional video by the Reverend Floyd Flake, an ex-Congressman who was a mentor for both Smith and Meeks.
Flake, Smith and Meeks have been closely tied together by the state’s Inspector General in a scheme to get control of the Aqueduct Racino for a group that included Flake as an investor.
Smith spokesperson Austin Shafran defended the grants, telling the News that the two ex-cons “bring a powerful message to youth.”
“Ex-offenders who have been given a second chance and have now made good on that second chance are really the appropriate people to teach others about the horrors of gang and gun violence,” Shafran told Daily News reporter Glenn Blain.
The Feurtado brothers were busted in 1995 on federal drug charges. Todd was released in 2002 and Lance in 2004. Their foundation was incorporated in 2006 and reports virtually no assets, state records show.
The grant comes at a time when the state faces a $9 billion budget deficit and plans to begin laying off state workers.
“This is no time to give money to groups that may be well-intentioned but have no track record,” said State Senator Martin Golden.”
Kevin Alexander, the executive director of the RDRC, admitted to The Wave that the program was out of his organization’s “comfort zone,” but that what it had been doing to curb drug and gun violence in Far Rockaway was not working.
“This is a credible program that we will be bringing to Redfern,” Alexander said. “It’s a great opportunity to curb what’s happening with our youth.”
“The foundation has been grass roots and informal up to now,” he added, “but we’re going to provide the structure and allow them to build capacity. We understand that there are pitfalls in taking them on, but the board and I discussed the situation and decided that what we were doing was not working and had to try something different.”
State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has to approve the contract as does the State Controller.