Authorities have served subpoenas to New York officials as part of an investigation into a non-profit group co-founded by Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), which reportedly cannot account for money it collected to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.
The focus of the U.S. Attorney’s investigation into the Queens-based New Direction Local Development Corporation — which was founded in Feb. 2001 “by the initiatives of congressman Gregory Meeks and [state] senator Malcolm Smith,” according to its Web site — is not totally clear.
The NDLDC is currently under media scrutiny for two seemingly separate issues: the fact that it can account for just $1,392 of tens of thousands of dollars its charity arm collected for families displaced by Katrina, as first reported by the New York Post; and that NDLDC’s board is linked to Rev. Floyd Flake, a former congressman and powerful political player who has a stake in the company that won a lottery contract late last month to build a “racino” at Aqueduct Race Track in Queens.
The Feds are looking into the the bidding process for the Aqueduct contract, according to the Albany Times Union.
Meeks said in a statement to TPMmuckraker that he welcomes any investigation into the group. He told the Queens Chronicle this week: “It is not my charity. I didn’t hire anyone and I didn’t get involved with the day to day operations of the group.”
The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York has issued a subpoena to the state’s Division of Lottery as part of a probe into the NDLDC, Gov. David Paterson’s office said this week. The state Senate has also been subpoenaed for information on Smith’s “member items” (earmarks) directed to the NDLDC over the years, the Daily News, the Post, and the Albany Times-Union are all reporting.
NDLDC’s Web site, which prominently features a picture of Meeks, says it was “formed to improve the quality of life of the residents of the of South East Queens and Rockaway areas … through working with various community organizations, such as civic associations, Churches and business organizations to identify the projects that are most in need of improvement.”
The phone number listed on NDLDC’s Web site has been disconnected, and an e-mail to the group bounced back.
Here is Meeks’ full statement on the matter, which refers to NDLDC’s charity arm, New Yorkers to Assist Hurricane Families (NOAHF):
NOAH F was created by people in the community in response to the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. The hurricane brought many evacuees to New York City without needed resources. We served as a catalyst for their work and gave them advice about available government services for evacuees. I am proud of how our community came together back then to help our displaced neighbors. I was not involved in the group’s day-to-day operations. I believe in transparency so to the extent that there is an investigation, like everybody else, I look forward to a clear presentation of the facts.