AG hails conviction of Bronx leader in election funding scam

Attorney General Letitia James. (Photo: Mark Hallum/amNewYork)

A Bronx nonprofit executive was found guilty Monday for her role in a corruption scheme involving for City Council candidate Albert Alvarez, who ran for office in the Bronx during the 2017 election cycle.

Anna Mendez and Alvarez, along with a co-conspirator of Mendez’s, were arraigned in January 2018 under the accusation of using employee information from within the day care nonprofit to provide straw donations to Alvarez’ campaign.

Alvarez pleaded guilty to the scheme in June to submitting up to $750 in six contribution cards to the city Campaign Finance Board resulting in a payout of $4,500 from the matching funds program. The matching funds program overall pumped $92,400 in taxpayer money into his war chest, according to Campaign Finance Board.

“Public corruption, on any level and in any form, will not be tolerated in New York State,” James said. “Anna Mendez took advantage of the democratic process by illegally using non-profit funds for political gain. My office will continue to root out corruption, and hold bad actors responsible for their actions.”

Mendez was an executive for Tremont Crotona as well as A&G Early Learn Community Network.

George Gonzalez, who was also involved in the nonprofit, has already pleaded guilty to distributing the contribution cards to employees and providing the funds stolen from Tremont for the individual donations, masking the origins of the funds.

Former Tremont Crotona Chairman of the Board, Alexander Pena, also pleaded guilty for having a role in falsifying the contributions, according to the AG.

“A jury heard the overwhelming evidence and reached the conclusion that Ms. Mendez was guilty,” state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, whose office was also involved in the investigation, said. ”The message is clear, if you break the law, you’re going to get caught and you’re going pay the price.”

The city Department of Investigation worked with New York City and state law enforcement officials to investigate the straw donor scheme. The Joint Task Force on Public Integrity between the state comptroller and the AG’s office are in charge of spearheading campaign finance violation investigations.

“Today’s conviction sends the important message that individuals who submit false documents in order to defraud the City of New York will be held accountable,” DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett said. “This defendant’s actions corrupted the City’s campaign finance and contracting systems, both of which are vital to the public’s trust in government. DOI will continue to work with the state Attorney General’s Office and fellow law enforcement agencies to uncover and stop this type of corruption.”

Alvarez took a plea deal and along with Mendez was charged with misdemeanor charges with no jail time. Meanwhile, Gonzalez received felony convictions of grand larceny and offering a false instrument for filing, according to James’ office.