By Sasha Gonzales
The longtime director of a Bronx youth group was sentenced to a year in jail Wednesday for stealing thousands of dollars in federal funds meant to help middle-school kids, prosecutors said.
Earnestine Russell, 69, who had served as executive director of the Baychester Youth Council since the 1980s, pleaded guilty to grand larceny in Bronx Supreme Court after authorities found she stole around $112,000 from a federal grant of more than $2.7 million. The funds were administered by the state Department of Education and earmarked for creation of a high-tech learning center, official said.
Russell used the money to gamble at casinos, give cash gifts to her family, buy electronics, take personal trips, and pay other personal expenses, officials said at the time of her arraignment in 2016.
“The defendant stole money that was meant to support after- school programs for middle school children in our Bronx community,” said Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark, whose office conducted the investigation alongside investigators from New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office.
Russell was also ordered to pay more than $61,000 in restitution, officials said.
Neither Russell nor her attorney could immediately be reached for comment.