JULY 15, 2009
In the latest scandal involving New York City lawmakers illegally diverting public funds to family charities, a Manhattan councilman who abruptly resigned this week will plead guilty to federal charges of misusing tax dollars by steering hefty sums to his sister’s nonprofit.
Weeks after a fellow councilwoman got exposed for giving large amounts of public funds to her family-operated group, Manhattan Councilman Miguel Martinez got criminally charged for doing the same thing and will plead guilty sometime this week to federal charges, according to a local news report.
Federal prosecutors say Martinez, a highly popular young Democrat who represented the Upper Manhattan sections of Washington Heights and Inwood, steered more than $1 million to a shady group that reportedly helps businesses in “underserved immigrant and Latino communities.” The charity, which hasn’t filed tax forms in years and is 100% funded with government dollars, got virtually no support from the city until Martinez’s sister, Maria, joined the board in 2006.
Since then local dollars have poured in, including more than $1.4 million in City Council funds alone and $400,000 sponsored directly by the corrupt councilman. Although Martinez is the first of New York City’s 51-member council to be charged in the ongoing federal probe, he probably won’t be the last.
Two separate lawmakers from Brooklyn are likely next on the indictment list. Councilman Erik Martin Dilan funneled taxpayer dollars to a nonprofit run by his wife and Councilwoman Maria Del Carmen Arroyo did the same for a family-run group that supposedly helps the needy and employs several members of her family.
Arroyo’s nephew, the group’s president, was indicted last month for stealing tens of thousand of dollars from the charity and using the money to go on lavish shopping sprees, fly his lawmaker aunt and grandma to the Caribbean and to contribute money to his grandma’s (state Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo, the councilwoman’s mother) political campaign.
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