MANHATTAN (CN) – A Brooklyn City Council member’s former chief of staff and a former aide pleaded guilty to embezzling $145,000 in taxpayer money through an educational nonprofit organization.
Asquith Reid, former chief of staff for city councilman Kendell Stewart, and Joycinth Anderson, Stewart’s former staffer, siphoned the money through the Donna Reid Memorial Education Fund, which Reid had set up to honor the memory of his daughter after she died of cancer. The organization purportedly sought to provide after-school tutoring and new educational programs for children.
Since 2003, the city council has set aside discretionary funds earmarked for nonprofit organizations of the council members’ choosing. Reid was the contact person for Stewart’s requests for discretionary funds. In 2004, Stewart designated the Donna Reid Fund, based in Reid’s home, to receive the discretionary funds.
The New York City Department for the Aging refused to disburse the money, noting the conflict in interest. However, the nonprofit received more than $365,000 through a different agency, plus $14,000 in additional discretionary funds.
Reid, Anderson and two other associates embezzled about $145,000 from the Donna Reid Fund, including wire transfers to Reid’s family and friends in Jamaica.
Most of the $365,000 was used for legitimate purposes, prosecutors said, but Reid, Anderson and two of Reid’s associates embezzled about $145,000 from the Donna Reid Fund. Some of that money was used to pay political club memberships and Stewart’s campaign expenses, according to prosecutors.
Reid funneled the money to his home address through two sham nonprofits, Community Opportunity and Resource Development (CORD) and Central Brooklyn Community Services (CBCS). “In truth and in fact, CORD and CBCS provided minimal, if any, services to the community,” federal prosecutors said.
Stewart’s staffer Joycinth (Sue) Anderson served as a nominal but paid consultant for these organizations. She also pleaded guilty to the fraud and faces a maximum 20 years in prison.
Reid also pleaded guilty to asking a witness to lie about working for the Donna Reid Fund and financial transactions that took place. Both counts – embezzlement and tampering with witnesses – carry maximum 20-year sentences.
Reid and Anderson are scheduled for sentencing by Judge Victor Marrero on Oct. 2.
The indictment stated that two co-conspirators participated in the scheme, but they were not named.