By Kevin Deutsch
A Bronx non-profit executive was convicted Monday of using money stolen from non-profit day care centers to fund straw political contributions to former New York City Council candidate Albert Alvarez.
The jury’s guilty verdict against Anna Mendez is the fifth public disposition in the investigation of wide-ranging corruption at Tremont Crotona, Inc., and A&G Early Learn Community Network, the two non-profit day care centers where Mendez worked, according to New York Attorney General Letitia James.
Mendez was convicted of 10 counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in Manhattan Supreme Court.
“Public corruption, on any level and in any form, will not be tolerated in New York State,” James said. “Anna Mendez took advantage of the democratic process by illegally using non-profit funds for political gain. My office will continue to root out corruption, and hold bad actors responsible for their actions.”
The office’s of state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett were also involved in the corruption probe.
Mendez and her co-conspirator, George Gonzalez, provided funds to other employees of Tremont Crotona Day Care Center so that they could make straw campaign contributions to Alvarez, prosecutors said. Gonzalez also distributed contribution cards to the employees, and had them write in their own names to conceal the source of the funds, prosecutor said.
The money had actually been stolen from Tremont Crotona Day Care Center, prosecutors said. Even though Alvarez knew the donations and accompanying contribution cards were fraudulent, he submitted them to the New York City Campaign Finance Board, obtaining at least $4,500 in public matching funds as a result, prosecutors said.
In total, Alvarez received $92,400 in public matching funds. He has pleaded guilty to one count of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the Second Degree, a misdemeanor.
Gonzalez also pleaded guilty to felony counts of Grand Larceny and Offering a False Instrument for filing in connection with his role in the straw donation scheme.
Alexander Pena, the former Chairman of the Board for Tremont Crotona, Inc., has pleaded guilty to Offering a False Instrument for Filing for his role in corruption at the non-profit, prosecutors said.