A Bay Shore couple has been charged in federal court in Manhattan with fraud and embezzlement for using nonprofit funding intended for senior centers as their personal piggy bank and misappropriating $953,875 from New York City.
Kwame Insaidoo, 59, identified as executive director of the United Block Association, and Roxanna Pearson, 62, allegedly diverted the funds from $11.6 million the nonprofit was paid since 2008 to operate and provide meals at four upper Manhattan senior centers.
Insaidoo was accused of overbilling the city for supposed food purchases — claiming expenses 500 percent higher than actual expenses in some reports — while working with his wife to funnel money to a secret account and a shell corporation.
Pearson had been a consultant to the nonprofit until 2012 when she was terminated under city anti-nepotism policies, but Insaidoo continued to authorize payments to her, the government said.
Prosecutors said the pair used the proceeds of the scheme to pay the mortgage on their Long Island house as well as utility bills and insurance, and to purchase a luxury car and clothes.
“Kwame Insaidoo and Roxanna Pearson allegedly diverted close to a million dollars in public funds designed to assist our city’s elderly and spent it on themselves,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement from his Manhattan office on Wednesday.
City Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters, whose agency joined in the investigation, said audits showed “systemic vulnerabilities” in the Department for the Aging’s ability to audit nonprofits that the city had to address.
“The defendants stole food from the mouths of New York’s seniors,” he said.
Insaidoo and Pearson were both released on a $200,000 bond after an appearance in court. They face up to 85 years in prison on conspiracy, wire fraud, embezzlement and money laundering charges.
Jonathan Marvinny, a lawyer for Insaidoo, said in court Wednesday that his client was “anxious to prove his innocence” at trial.