New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced the guilty plea of Earnestine Russell to grand larceny in the third degree for stealing grant money from a state-administered, federally-funded grant to support after-school programs for middle school children. Russell was sentenced to one year in jail and must pay back $61,098.
According to the investigation by the Bronx District Attorney's Office and the State Comptroller's Office, in 2008, Russell--who has run the Baychester Youth Council since the 1980s--received a federal grant, administered by the New York State Education Department, for more than $2.7 million over five years.
The State Comptroller's office audited Russell in 2012 and found she used $250,400 for inappropriate or undocumented expenses, including a home theater. Ultimately, the grant was revoked. The Bronx DA's Office and the Comptroller’s office found that Russell had moved the grant money through numerous bank accounts. Russell made cash withdrawals, wrote checks to cash for herself or family, and made wire transfers from the accounts.
State Comptroller DiNapoli said, "Earnestine Russell took public money intended to give children a safe and nurturing place to go after school, but spent it on personal trips and electronic equipment for herself. I thank Bronx County District Attorney Clark for working with us to hold Ms. Russell accountable."
Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark said, “The defendant stole money that was meant to support after-school programs for middle school children in our Bronx community. The defendant, who led the Baychester Youth Council since the 1980s, has now been held accountable for her actions.”
For a copy of the audit, go to http://osc.state.ny.us/audits/allaudits/bseaudits/bse2011-0021.htm
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