Cow Harbor Warriors agree to open books
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The Cow Harbor Warriors will allow Huntington Town board members and Northport Village trustees to review detailed financial records on up to $170,000 raised for wounded veterans.
But the documents will not be turned over until the group files its taxes and has a certified financial review, both of which are expected to be completed by May 15, said Rocco Donnino, a founding member of the Cow Harbor Warriors, a nonprofit not formally affiliated with veterans.
"There is no evidence to show we've done anything wrong," he said. "We've always been aboveboard and continue to be transparent."
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The decision comes after weeks of Northport American Legion Post 694 demanding to see bank statements, deposit slips and receipts from 2012. The Cow Harbor Warriors met with the media Wednesday to make available those documents.
Members said they have been unfairly criticized for their actions surrounding as much as $170,000 raised last year for the Wounded Warrior Project and for a recreational weekend for tri-state area project veterans and their families. This month the group turned over a financial spreadsheet to the town.
"We've been bullied into responding to allegations that are just not founded," Donnino said.
After the Cow Harbor Warriors requested permits from the town and village earlier this year for an event this fall, Post 694 began questioning the group over its accounting practices, lack of support for local veterans and discrimination against vets not in the Wounded Warrior Project. While taking care to point out their respect and admiration for Post 694, group members said they felt they were being targeted by the post's spokesman, John Cooney.
Cooney said that until bank statements, checks and invoices are produced for the American Legion to see, the group will recommend against permits for this year's event.
"After that, we can deal with the local veterans support issue," Cooney said in a phone interview.
Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said Wednesday in an email that the Cow Harbor Warriors should resolve the issue as quickly as possible. "The longer this lingers, the wider the differences will become."
Northport Mayor George Doll said Wednesday that the board has never asked to see Cow Harbor Warrior records.
"Our problem with them was that the money they collected did not go towards helping local veterans," Doll said. "Our position has been you used the village's feeling toward veterans to collect money and spent it elsewhere."