Thursday, 15 March 2007

AIR AMERICA SCANDAL UPDATE

Ken Berwitz

Finally, over a year after their one and only article about the Air America scandal, the New York Times has graced us with another one.  That's the good news.  The bad news is what the article tells us.

To remind you, Air America, illegally took $875,000 as an interest-free loan from the Gloria Wise Foundation - supposedly without the knowledge of Gloria Wise's board of trustees (this is in dispute).  The money was used to prop up Air America Radio, which has done nothing but run up losses since it started and which, predictably, ran straight through the $875,000. 

However, it also meant there was $875,000 less for the needy beneficiaries - children and the elderly - who relied on Gloria Wise's services for a variety of social programs. 

When this scandalous fraud became known, the Gloria Wise foundation was investigated and then shut down.  Its needy clients -- the remaining clients they could help with their depleted funds, that is -- were hastily placed in whatever other charity programs could take them.  It's a good bet that some could not be placed at all. 

If you think this looks like Air America and the Gloria Wise Foundation were in a competition to see which of the two was more corrupt, and less concerned about the people their financial chicanery hurt, then you understand perfectly. 

And this is before we get to the corporate shell game used by Air America's owners.  At least two times in the radio network's short existence they have had the network go belly up and then immediately repurchased it under a different "corporation".  By so doing, they screwed the little investors out of their money. 

Air America Radio supposedly came into existence to expose and root out precisely these kinds of corporate scams.  But they sure did a good job of using one for their own benefit. didn't they?  It reminds me of an old saying about foxes and chicken coops.

So tell me;  how many years would YOU put the perpetrators of this scandal in jail for; a scandal that hurt so many vulnerable people?  Ten?  Five?  Would you be lenient and give them just 2 or 3 years with time off for good behavior?

How about none?  Not one day.  If so, you are in agreement with the "judge".  That's right, judge john n. byrne did not give any of these criminals even one day in jail.

If this isn't a classic case of the fix being in, I'd like to know what is.  Another slap in the face to justice and common decency.  And who did it benefit?  The people who, through Air America, were supposed to be exposing abuses of justice and decency.  Sickening.

Now, here is something I very rarely have a chance to do.  I am going to show you a New York Times article because it does a very good job of reporting and explaining the Air America scandal,  despite the fact that all legal culpability emanates from the left.  This being the Times, however, they did leave out one very significant part of the story, which I'll tell you about afterwards. 

Here is the article (bold print is mine):

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Ex-Leaders of Bronx Charity Avoid Prison in Fraud Case

By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS and CASSI FELDMAN
Published: March 14, 2007

Two former executives of a Bronx charity avoided prison sentences yesterday and instead will be fined for their roles in a fraud scheme in which they stole money intended for children and the elderly to make renovations to a beachfront apartment, to purchase cars, and to donate $875,000 to a financially struggling radio network.

Charles Rosen, 64, the former executive director of the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club, based in Co-op City, had pleaded guilty in October 2006 to charges of grand larceny and forgery, both felonies, and of obstructing government administration, a misdemeanor.

Jeffrey Aulenbach, 46, the charitys former deputy executive director, had pleaded guilty to charges of grand larceny and of obstructing government administration.

.For Mr. Rosen, the imposition of the sentence represents an ignoble chapter in a well-known public life. In 1975, he led a famous rent strike at Co-op City, and later became chairman of the RiverBay Corporation, which manages the sprawling Co-op City complex and its more than 15,000 apartment units. He has been an influential political power broker in the northeastBronx for decades.

During the past several months, thousands of Co-op City residents signed petitions and wrote letters to the judge in the case, Justice John N. Byrne, requesting that he impose jail sentences on the two men despite the plea agreements. Dozens of Co-op City residents showed up in Justice Byrnes courtroom for each of the four sentencing dates, three of which were postponed while the judge reviewed documents and considered his legal options.

Yesterday, Justice Byrne said he agreed with the plea deal.

This court is mindful and sensitive to the wishes of the various people of Co-op City who felt that this was an unjust sentence, he said in court.

But after consulting with the attorney generals office, Justice Byrne said, he had concluded that the promised sentences are appropriate to stand.

Mr. Rosen walked out of the Bronx Criminal Courthouse without speaking to reporters. His lawyer, Frederick H. Cohn, said the sentence was just.

The judge did what he should have done, he said.

Mr. Aulenbachs lawyer, Richard S. Goldberg, blamed the charitys board of directors for his clients troubles.

Virtually no monies were lost to community endeavors, he said. The vast majority of what the community was complaining about were acts that were brought to the boards attention and approved of by the board. They elected a board of directors that was simply a rubber stamp.

Juanita Garrido, a sister of Gloria Wise who founded the organization in 1977 and died in 1993 said the plea agreement seemed tied to Mr. Rosens political influence.

I just think it was a travesty of justice, but thats the way it goes here in New York, she said. I guess its who you know and not what you do.

The Rev. Robert A. Smith Jr., pastor of the Church of the Savior and president of the Coalition of African American Churches and Community Organizations in Co-op City, said the group was considering filing a civil lawsuit against Mr. Rosen.

This case is not finished, he said. Either way, justice is going to prevail.

After a two-year investigation by the citys Department of Investigation, the two men admitted their roles in stealing or misallocating nearly $1.2 million, including an $875,000 payment to a radio network, Air America, that had been concealed from the charitys board of directors.

The payment, which the charity later said was a loan, had been requested because Evan Montvel-Cohen, an executive at the Boys and Girls Club, had a financial stake in Air America . The money was paid back after investigators told Air America officials that the financial transaction was under investigation.
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That tells you all you need to know.  Almost.  They left out one thing:

They left out the fact that Air America Radio's biggest star, Al Franken, was being paid MILLIONS a year, and that he knew about the loan. Therefore Franken willingly participated in and benefitted from the removal of money from children and the elderly, with part of that money used to line his pockets. 

That's the New York Times we know and love:  Don't let 'em in on the fact that Franken, who will be running for the senate in Minnesota, was front and center in this scandal.  He's got the right political positions, so he's a protected species. 

Abner Berwitz Just indicating my attendance (03/21/07)


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