Thursday, May 15, 2008

City pol now in criminal probe

BY ROBERT GEARTY
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Thursday, May 15th 2008, 4:00 AM

A criminal investigation has been launched into allegations that Bronx City Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo funneled taxpayer money to a nonprofit that employed her relatives.

City officials confirmed the probe Wednesday, a month after the Daily News disclosed that Arroyo directed $82,500 in 2007 to the South Bronx Community Corp., where her sister was the fiscal officer and her nephew was executive director.

The Department of Youth and Community Development cited the investigation in rejecting a request for documents The News filed under the state Freedom of Information law.

The News had asked the agency to turn over all records involving funding to the nonprofit.

"[We have] been informed by the New York City Department of Investigation of an ongoing criminal investigation, and that the release at this time of the information you requested would interfere with that investigation," said Michael Owh, lawyer for the youth agency.

DOI officials declined to comment.

Carmen Aquino, a spokeswoman for Arroyo, said, "We don't know nothing about that."

Last month, Arroyo acknowledged she sponsored the money for South Bronx Community Corp., but insisted it was allocated only after her sister, Iris Arroyo, and Iris' son, Richard Izquierdo, had left.

Arroyo was a former South Bronx Community Corp. director before being elected to the City Council. Her mother, Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo (D-Bronx), was a director years before, and has sponsored $141,500 in state discretionary grants while her family worked there.

DOI's investigation of City Council spending practices has resulted in the arrests of two Council staffers on charges of embezzling $145,000 through their nonprofit.

Arroyo is not the only City Council member who directed funds to nonprofits where they had family ties.

Among those The News have found are Erik Dilan (D-Brooklyn), Miguel Martinez (D-Manhattan), Diana Reyna (D-Brooklyn) and Darlene Mealy (D-Brooklyn).

Last year, Mealy attempted to steer $25,000 to a block association her sister ran out of her home. Mealy would not say why the funds were never paid. A City Hall source said they were pulled back.

rgearty@nydailynews.com

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