Wednesday, April 16, 2014


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Council Members Who Allocated Money To Arrested Nonprofit Leader On Hot Seat

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Earlier this week, the head of a nonprofit was arrested for stealing cash meant for youth programs, part of an ongoing investigation that has put several Queens city councilmen on the hot seat. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

They were standing up for the Community Safety Act, but three Queens council members have something else in common: they all gave city cash to a nonprofit run by Van Holmes.

Holmes was arrested this week for allegedly using that cash on himself instead of on youth programs.

Councilman Ruben Wills gave him $17,000.

"There's no accusations anymore," he said.

When NY1 asked to talk about it on Thursday, Wills got on the phone with his political consultant, and then he declined to take questions.

"I'm not going to read a statement," he said. "I'll have Lupe contact you."

He then sped away.

His consultant later sent over a statement, saying, in part, that Wills has not been contacted by the attorney general, and if he is, he would fully cooperate.

Both Leroy Comrie and Mark Weprin, who gave the group much less, did not have the same reaction to questions.

"When we were informed by the city that the group wasn't meeting its goals and obligations, we stopped funding it. End of story," Comrie said.

"We gave them $5,000," Weprin said. "They turned out to have a corrupt executive director that I had no idea was doing anything wrong."

Former councilman turned state Senator James Sanders also gave Holmes' nonprofit organization, the Young Leaders Institute, money.

"Just because a particular public official directed funds to a charity whose president turned out to be a thief does not mean that that elected official was necessarily engaged in or involved in any misconduct," said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. "But we are pursing a variety of other issues related to Mr. Holmes' activities."

Meanwhile, some council members are being targeted by another law enforcement group, the city's police officers' union. They are blasting some council members for voting for the so-called Community Safety Act.

The act allows New Yorkers to sue for biased-based profiling in state court, and it creates an inspector general for the New York City Police Department.

The union has sent out flyers to attack some councilmen who voted for it, including Mark Weprin. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP