2011-12-09 / Top Stories

Huntley Associates Indicted In Public Money Scam

By Howard Schwach

State Senator Shirley Huntley. State Senator Shirley Huntley. Four close associates of State Senator Shirley Huntley, who represents Broad Channel in the state body, including her niece and her top aide, have been indicted on charges of participating in a scheme to pocket taxpayer dollars intended for public services in New York City.

The investigation detailed the scheme in which a nonprofit set up by New York State Senator Shirley L. Huntley funneled member item funds to those associated with it, including the senator’s aide and an individual who shares a residence with the senator.

Huntley was not named in the indictment, but a spokesperson for the state’s attorney general told The Wave that “the investigation is ongoing” and that there may well be future indictments in the case.

Local sources said that the attorney general will need to show that Huntley was complicit in the scheme and that she knew that the money she provided the organization was not being used for the stated purpose.

The source said that it should not be hard for the AG to do that, however, because one of the indicted participants lived in the same house as Huntley.

According to the indictment, the president and treasurer of the Parent Workshop, Inc., submitted fraudulent documents to New York State to obtain public money from a legislative member item. Instead of providing the promised programs, the two defendants pocketed approximately $29,950. Two additional defendants were charged with falsifying documents to cover up the theft once the investigation commenced.

“This personal profit-making scheme defrauded taxpayers, all the while depriving communities of much-needed funds. Now it’s time to hold those behind it accountable,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “The charges send a strong message that those who abuse their positions to rip off taxpayers will be prosecuted. My office’s partnership with the state’s Comptroller is designed to combat such corruption, and we will continue to work tirelessly to protect every penny of taxpayer money during these challenging economic times.”

“Taking money intended for families in need is unconscionable,” State Comptroller DiNapoli said. “Abuse and fraud will not be tolerated. By combining forces, my office and the Attorney General have exposed and are prosecuting this egregious theft of state funds which were intended for the public good.”

The charges accuse Patricia D. Savage, the nonprofit’s president and Senator Huntley’s aide, as well as Lynn H. Smith, the nonprofit’s treasurer and an individual who shares a residence with the senator, of engaging in a fraudulent scheme to steal member item funds.

The defendants falsely asserted that Parent Workshop, Inc. would use the member item funds secured by Senator Huntley to hold workshops for and conduct outreach to parents on the workings of the New York City public school system.

Instead, the indictment alleges that Savage and Smith never intended to hold any such events. Furthermore, the indictment alleges that they falsely asserted in multiple submissions to the New York State Department of State that, from April 2008 through March 2009, the Parent Workshop had held workshops and conducted outreach, when no such workshops were ever held and no such outreach was ever conducted. Based on these submissions, the Department of State provided $29,950 to the Parent Workshop – the sum the two defendants are charged with stealing.

According to the indictment, Savage and Smith submitted a fraudulent contract and five fake vouchers to illegally obtain that money. Each is charged with 11 total counts of grand larceny in the third degree and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree.

The indictment also alleges that after the Attorney General’s Office issued a subpoena to the Parent Workshop, defendant David R. Gantt falsified records in an effort to claim that he was paid in cash for conducting workshops as a consultant. In fact, he never conducted any workshops. Gantt is charged with four counts of falsifying business records in the first degree.

Defendant Roger N. Scotland, the president of the Southern Queens Park Association, a separate nonprofit corporation located in Queens, also created a false record in an attempt to hide the theft from investigators. Scotland is charged with falsifying business records in the first degree, tampering with physical evidence, and conspiracy to engage in those crimes.

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