NEW YORK – The executive director of a state-funded community organization with strong ties to a veteran assemblyman lied to federal authorities investigating the non-profit's finances, prosecutors alleged Tuesday.
A complaint unsealed in federal court in Manhattan accuses attorney David Griffiths of producing falsified records in response to a grand jury inquiry into payments he received from Neighborhood Enhancement for Training Services, or NETS.
Prosecutors also allege Griffiths, while seeking government grants, concealed the fact that he had been the target of a criminal investigation for five years.
Griffiths, 65, surrendered on Tuesday morning and was to appear in court later in the day. The name of his attorney wasn't immediately available.
According to its website, NETS offers job training, educational and social programs for the unemployed, children and senior citizens in the district of Peter Rivera, a Bronx Democrat. The site says Rivera has sponsored the group since 1992.
There was no immediate response on Tuesday to a phone message left for Rivera.
The assemblyman is a former New York Police Department officer, Drug Enforcement Administration agent and assistant district attorney in the Bronx.
Court papers say Rivera, referred to only as "the Assemblyman," had recruited Griffiths to head the nonprofit in 2003. The pair had "a long-standing personal and business relationship" after working together as prosecutors, the papers add.
The papers indicate that investigators were eyeing more than $200,000 in interest-free loans made by a collection agency — owned by Rivera, run by Griffiths and operating under a city contract — to NETS to cover the non-profit's expenses.
Questioned by the FBI, Griffiths "recalled that at some point he may have either taken loans from the not-for-profit or advances on his 'salary' from the not-for-profit," the complaint says.
The papers say Rivera also was questioned in 2008, telling an FBI agent that he wasn't involved in the day-to-day operations at the collection agency or NETS. He said he left all financial matters in Griffiths' hands and didn't know whether Griffiths earned a salary from NETS, they say.
Griffiths would face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of false statement, obstruction of justice and mail fraud charges.
Last month, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn charged another Bronx politician, former state Senate Democratic leader Pedro Espada, and his son with embezzling more than $500,000 from their federally funded Bronx health clinic. Both have pleaded not guilty.
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