Asquith Reid, chief of staff for Councilman Kendall Stewart (D-Flatbush), and Joycinth Anderson, another Stewart staffer, were formally charged with money laundering conspiracy and mail fraud conspiracy, each of which carries a potential 20 year prison sentence with a conviction, Garcia said.
The U.S. attorney for the Southern District said Reid and Anderson allegedly funneled money through the City Council's discretionary funds system, which allocates millions of dollars to nonprofit agencies each year, into a nonprofit agency called the Donna Reid Memorial Fund. It was named for Reid's late daughter.
According to the 13-page indictment, unsealed Wednesday morning, Reid and Anderson allegedly then used thousands of dollars to fund both political and personal interests. The indictment states that $18,000 was allegedly spent on a political club controlled by Stewart, $3,000 on campaign literature for the councilman and $31,000 was wired to Reid's family members in the island of Jamaica.
"Discretionary funds are ripe for abuse," Garcia said at a press conference in Manhattan Wednesday.
The discretionary funds system has recently come under fire after Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) recently admitted that millions of dollars in city funding were being placed in fictitious non-profit agencies that were used as holding areas until the money was needed elsewhere.
Garcia said Reid and Anderson allegedly funneled $14,000 to the Donna Reid Memorial Fund through two fictitious organizations - the New York Foundation for Community Development and the American Association of Concerned Veterans.
Garcia, who appeared alongside City Department of Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn, was quick to point out that this remains an ongoing investigation, but did not comment on what other city officials or agencies may be involved as it moves forward.
"Today's indictment shines sunlight on discretionary funding and displays the need for total transparency in the system," Hearn said.
©2008 Community News Group
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