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Alfonso Stabile accused of swiping league funds

“It’s all over the...

By Jennifer Warren

City Councilman Alfonso Stabile (R-Ozone Park), a candidate for borough president, has been accused by parents of siphoning funds from the lucrative Ozone-Howard Little League baseball team he has championed for the past 20 years.

“It’s all over the league,” said one team’s coach of the allegations against Stabile, 53, who until May served as the Little League president.

The Queens district attorney’s office is investigating the allegations, according to a source familiar with the case.

Mary de Bourbon, a spokeswoman for DA Richard Brown, said “we’re not confirming and we’re not denying an investigation.”

The questions began three years ago when a parent asked a league board member where his $140 in annual fees for his child went, said a coach who asked not to be identified. But the parent’s questions continually went unanswered.

“At meetings he’d tell you that the league juice was in the black,” the coach said. Stabile also told parents the money went for paying umpires and updating the fields, but “never the books were open,” the coach said.

Stabile had no comment, but his attorney, Bruce Baron, said his client is innocent of the allegations.

“This is a malicious political attempt to derail Stabile’s attempt to run for office — mainly the Queens borough president. That’s all I can tell you,” Baron said.

Stabile is running for the borough presidency on the Republican ticket against four Democrats: Former Board of Education representative Carol Gresser, City Councilman Sheldon Leffler (D-Hollis), Councilwoman Helen Marshall (D-East Elmhurst) and community activist Haydee Zambrana.

Stabile stepped down as president of the Little League in May, attributing his retirement to his father’s poor health, one parent said. The councilman has also suffered from eye trouble in recent months.

“They tried to do it without aninvestigation because he’s been there a long time and he knows everybody there,” the coach said. “They told him ‘leave quietly and we’ll squash it.’”

The Ozone-Howard league with 63 teams is one of the largest in the country, collecting an estimated $130,000 in registration fees each year.

Last Saturday at the league’sheadquarters at the corner of Centerville and Bristol avenues in Ozone Park, the teams’ sponsors plastered the back fence of one field.

Among them were T&T General Contractors, Esquire Air Freight, Auggie’s Appliance Service Center, BAM’s Auto Body, Ferrara Bros. Building Corps.

“Why are we paying so (much) if we have nice sponsors here?” asked Dale Cuneo, whose two sons play in the league. “I never understood that. But you know what? The kids want it and so you do it.”

Last week little had changed at the ballfields, but some parents noted that Stabile, who was once a fixture at the Saturday games, no longer attended.

“Every game he was here,” said Michael Cuneo. “And then this happened, and he disappeared.” Cuneo said if the allegations are false, as Stabile and his lawyers have claimed, then he should attend the games as was his custom.

Over the years during his Saturday ritual of watching the teams play, Stabile often held court by a picnic table near the concession stand. A group of 10 or 12 men would congregate around the councilman to socialize, to laugh and to talk business, ball, and favors.

“They would gather at the tables and talk. People would ask him for favors and he’d always try — ‘Some guy lost his job at Sanitation, maybe you could help him?’ That sort of thing. He’d always try,” Cuneo said.

But on Saturday the gathering had been reduced to three or four men, among them Ralph Wallace, one of the minor Little League commissioners, who declined to comment on Stabile.

“I have nothing to say. I’m nobody. I just take care of the grounds,” the commissioner said.

Reach reporter Jennifer Warren by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 155.

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