New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood today announced the indictments of former New York City Council candidate Albert Alvarez and former Tremont Crotona Day Care Center Executive Director Anna Mendez for seven counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a class E felony, in New York County Supreme Court. Alvarez is also charged with one count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony; Mendez was indicted for three additional counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree.
"Mr. Alvarez and Ms. Mendez allegedly schemed to funnel straw donations to Mr. Alvarez's campaign and steal matching campaign funds from New York City," DiNapoli said. "Thanks to the work of my investigators in partnership with Attorney General Barbara Underwood and the New York City Department of Investigations, both of these individuals have been indicted and will face the consequences of their actions."
"As we allege, the defendants orchestrated a scheme to collect straw donations, steal public matching funds, and submit false filings – undermining the public's trust in our government and political process," said Attorney General Underwood. "Today’s indictments should send a clear message that we will not tolerate those that skirt the law for their own benefit."
Alvarez previously served as Chief of Staff to New York City Council Majority Leader Joel Rivera. In 2013, Alvarez ran for Rivera’s seat in the 15th Council District, but was unsuccessful in the Democratic primary. While running for office, Alvarez is alleged to have knowingly accepted straw donations orchestrated by Mendez and one of her employees at the Tremont Crotona Day Care Center in the Bronx.
Mendez and the employee are alleged to have provided funds to other employees of the non-profit to contribute to Alvarez in 2013. Mendez and her colleague allegedly distributed contribution cards to these employees, which the employees were instructed to falsely make out in their own names while Alvarez watched; Alvarez then allegedly collected the money and false contribution cards from the straw donors and falsely submitted them to the New York City Campaign Finance Board in order to steal at least $4,500 in public matching funds.
Mendez later left Tremont Crotona Day Care Center to form A&G Early Child Care Community Network. Mendez allegedly filed three distinct VENDEX forms with the New York City Mayor’s Office of Contract Services over the period from Sept. 22, 2015 to Oct. 4, 2016. The forms, which were filed on behalf of A&G Early Child Care Community Network Inc., allegedly contained false disclosure statements related to the fact that she was the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Attorney General’s office.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
Since 2011, the Attorney General and State Comptroller have worked together to fight corruption through their Joint Task Force on Public Integrity. They have brought charges against dozens of individuals implicated in public corruption schemes around the state – resulting in the return of over $11 million in restitution to taxpayers through these convictions
DiNapoli and Underwood would also like to thank the New York City Department of Investigation for its partnership on this investigation.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Kevin B. Frankel of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Daniel Cort and Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz. The Criminal Justice Division is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Margaret Garnett.
The investigation was led by Investigator Steven Broomer of the Attorney General’s Investigations Bureau, under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Michael Leahy and Deputy Chief Investigator John McManus. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Dominick Zarrella. Legal Support Analyst Rachel Demma of the Public Integrity Bureau also assisted in the investigation.
The Comptroller’s investigation was led by his Division of Investigations.
Since taking office in 2007, DiNapoli has committed to fighting public corruption and encourages the public to help fight fraud and abuse. New Yorkers can report allegations of fraud involving taxpayer money by calling the toll-free Fraud Hotline at 1-888-672-4555, by filing a complaint online at [email protected], or by mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Investigations, 14th Floor, 110 State St., Albany, NY 12236. Review prior cases at https://www.osc.state.ny.us/investigations/index.htm.