Monday, July 30, 2012

Feds Investigate N.Y. Rep Over Funds To Nonprofit

Federal investigators are looking into millions in taxpayer dollars steered to a nonprofit in Queens, N.Y. by Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens).

The U.S. Attorney's Office issued a subpoena to the Greater Jamaica Development Corp. (GJDC) to find out more about the funds, according to a report in The New York Post. The nonprofit has long been a favorite of Meeks. His mentor, Rev. Floyd Flake, sits on its board and GJDC president Carlisle Towery gave $1,000 to Meeks' re-election campaign in June.

Among the projects funded by the grant money arranged by the Queens representative was $9.2 million from the Federal Transit Administration to repair an underpass below Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) tracks and to create a shopping arcade in the area. Meeks appeared at a lighting ceremony for the long-delayed project in the spring, but the newly built row of storefronts remained empty.

Meeks also helped GJDC get $21 million in tax credits to create housing complexes, retail shops, and a hotel near the Jamaica LIRR station and the JFK Airport AirTrain stop. The deal with the hotel recently fell through and the city's Economic Development Corp. has recently requested development proposals for the land.

This is not the first time Meeks has been a target of federal investigators. He first ran into trouble when The Post reported on his relationship with a Queens nonprofit that he helped found, the New Direction Local Development Corp. The organization collected thousands of dollars for Hurricane Katrina victims, but almost none of that money made it to those individuals.

The House Ethics Committee also has an ongoing probe of Meeks over a $40,000 payment he received in 2007 from a Queens businessman named Edul Ahmad. Meeks failed to reveal this money on his yearly financial disclosure form.

According to its website, GJDC is one of New York City's oldest nonprofits. It was founded in 1962, stressing "economic development as it pursues its community-building mission." The organization states that it is supported by corporate and foundation grants, government contracts, and income from its project operations. Ahmad was arrested in 2011 for his connection with a $50 million mortgage fraud scheme.

You can read the full story in The New York Post.

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