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Two top southeast Queens politicians’ involvement in a controversial charity group has put them in the spotlight of a federal investigation into the nonprofit, a published report said.
The New York Post reported Tuesday that there is an ongoing investigation into the Springfield Gardens-based group New Direction Local Development Corp., which collected hundreds of thousands of dollars for Hurricane Katrina relief aid in 2005, but only distributed a fraction of the proceeds, according to the paper.
U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) and state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) helped to create the group nearly 10 years ago and helped to raise money for the hurricane effort.
The Post said an undisclosed federal agency is looking into New Development, which is in the process of disbanding, and its questionable spending practices.
The group collected roughly $31,000 for Katrina victims through an effort known as New Yorkers Organized to Assist Hurricane Families, but only gave $1,392, according to its tax forms, according to the paper.
In an e-mailed statement, Meeks said he had nothing to do with the day-to-day operations of New Development.
“I have no independent knowledge of its finances. I have had no reason to think that its funds were used for anything other than its mission of helping evacuees,” he said.
Neither Smith nor the state attorney general’s office, which the Post said had initially investigated the situation, returned phone calls for comment by press time Tuesday.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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