The NY Post, the Daily News and NY1 report that city contract monitors have continued to testify in court as prosecution witnesses. Their testimonies have shown that the nonprofits involved kept shoddy records, did not use accounting software, and had few program participants. At various times, I have sat through some of the court proceedings.
On Monday, I sat through a portion of Paul Washington’s testimony about a tutoring program for black FDNY applicants that was administered by NEBRC. Mr. Washington is a 23-year veteran of the FDNY, led the Vulcan Society for eight years and has successfully sued the city and the FDNY for discrimination against minority applicants.
Testifying as a prosecution witness, Mr. Washington said he sought grant funding from the City Council to hold city firefighter exam tutoring classes and physical training for minority candidates. According to his testimony, former City Councilmember Yvette Clarke spearheaded the “fire diversity initiative.” Washington said that he didn’t know of Seabrook’s involvement until he met him at a meeting with CM Clarke to discuss funding of the fire diversity initiative.
Under cross-examination Washington admitted not knowing the parameters or terms of the city contract for the initiative. Nor did he know that John Jay College/CUNY was contracted to provide physical training for minority FDNY candidates.
Washington said that he and Vulcan Society volunteers, not NEBRC staff, provided the tutoring work. He testified that he got money from NEBRC to purchase training materials from an Ohio vendor. He also said that neither he nor Vulcan Society members sought payment for their efforts. He appeared to be an honest man sincerely trying to help his people get into the FDNY.
Last week, city Department of Small Business Services contract monitors expressed bewilderment at the incompetence of the staffs at NEBRC (NE Bronx Redevelopment Corporation), the Bronx African-American Chamber of Commerce and the African-American Legal Defense and Hall of Fame.
Ms. Chafee, a Small Business Services contract officer, testified that she was unable to complete an on-site audit of either the youth work readiness or computer literacy training for senior citizens contracts conducted by NEBRC. She said that she was unable to find many participants enrolled in the program. She also testified that NEBRC later sent her lists that contained the same 46 names of participants for the two different contracted programs.
Another witness, Tami LeChau, a former SBS management auditor, also testified that she was disappointed by what she found during an on-site audit of NEBRC in 2006. Ms. LeChau said that the audit was difficult because NEBRC did not have an accounting system, lacked a general ledger, and was unable to produce financial statements to document expenditures.
Under cross-examination by Seabrook’s lawyer, Anthony Ricco, Ms. LeChau said NEBRC was “inauditable.” She also said that NEBRC’s bookkeeper was not qualified.
Seabrook’s attorney, Edward Wilford told NY1, “Is there anything that anybody has testified to that connects Larry Seabrook, Councilman Seabrook, to the failure of these entities to perform their goals? There’s nothing there.”
‘Horrible’ Seabrook charities ripped at trial
Last Updated:3:43 AM, November 23, 2011
Posted:2:31 AM, November 23, 2011
Several prosecution witnesses testified yesterday at the trial of City Councilman Larry Seabrook about the dismal performance of two nonprofits that the Bronx politician allegedly used to provide jobs for his mistress, friends and relatives.
Brandi Johnson, who oversaw one group’s compliance with a $350,000, city-funded contract to boost minority employment, could barely contain her contempt.
“They were horrible,” Johnson told a Manhattan federal court jury.
Johnson, then a program manager for the Consortium for Worker Education, said she had to spend so much time trying to help the North East Bronx Redevelopment Corp. abide by its contract that “I should have been on NEBRC’s payroll.”
CWE exec Glenda Williams also testified that Seabrook angrily slammed his hand on a table during a 2008 meeting about fiscal irregularities.
During cross-examination, defense lawyer Edward Wilford suggested that Seabrook was merely frustrated because constituents employed by the Bronx African-American Chamber of Commerce weren’t getting paid.
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