The end of June meant another indictment for two former City Council aides.
An additional indictment against Asquith Reid, formerly chief of staff to City Councilmember Kendall Stewart, and Joycinth “Sue” Anderson was announced on June 24 by Michael Garcia, the U.S. Attorney for Southern District of New York, and Rose Gill Hearn, commissioner of the city’s Department of Investigations.
Back in April, Reid and Anderson were indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering conspiracy, allegedly embezzling at least $145,000 of $356,000 in city funds allocated since 2005 through the City Council to the Donna Reid Memorial Education Fund, a not-for-profit organization headed up by Reid and named in memory of his daughter.
The new “superceding indictment” relates to two other community-based organizations (CBOs), Community Opportunity and Resource Development (CORD) and Central Brooklyn Community Services (CBCS), both of which received discretionary councilmanic funding through Stewart’s office.
Between June and November 2004, CORD received $14,500 in council funds through the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), according to the indictment. In approximately March, 2006, the indictment said, “DYCD registered a contract allocating $35,000 in council discretionary funding” to CBCS.
Materials provided to the city regarding the two groups provided Reid’s home address as “the program address,” according to the indictment. Anderson’s role in both, according to the indictment, was as a “paid consultant.”
“At all times relevant to this indictment, both CORD and CBCS were purportedly non-profit organizations providing services to the community,” the indictment charges. “The primary function of both CORD and CBCS, however, was to funnel taxpayer money to Asquith Reid, the defendant, and his criminal associates for their personal benefits,” the indictment charges.
“In truth and in fact, CORD and CBCS provided minimal, if any, services to the community, and tens of thousands of dollars in discretionary funding allocated to both CORD and CBCS were embezzled by Asquith Reid, the defendant, for the benefit of himself and his criminal associates,” the indictment further alleges.
Reid and Anderson are also charged with witness tampering.
“The new indictments didn’t contain any new charges,” stated Michael Marinaccio, Reid’s attorney, who said that Reid had pleaded not guilty to the new charges, as he had earlier.
“They contained new factual allegations regarding two other CBOs,” Marinaccio went on. “We are still in the discovery phase, still looking at records that the government made available to us. So far, in the records I’ve looked at, there’s been no smoking gun so I expect evidence of allegations is going to rely on cooperating witness or witnesses.”
One of the questions that keeps surfacing is the impact that the indictments could have on Stewart’s latest political campaign, the race to unseat State Senator Kevin Parker in Brooklyn’s 21st Senatorial District.
Stewart himself acknowledged that it could damage him with some voters. While contending that he is not under investigation – “I had nothing to do with anything that went down, I voluntarily spoke to them twice and there’s nothing there; the only connection I have is the fact that they worked for me” — he said that some voters “who don’t understand what’s happening,” might shy away from voting for him.
Nonetheless, Stewart said, “We’re running on our record, how we’ve helped people, nothing more, nothing less. This gives me much more impetus to run to show whatever happens has nothing to do with what happened in my office. There are several CBOs that I’ve made allocations to. The idea is for me to make sure I serve the people and serve them right. I’m not going to let this deter me.”
One local pundit said that, in his view, the situation with Reid was one factor that could result in low voter turnout in the eastern part of the district, helping the third candidate in the three-way race, City Councilmember Simcha Felder, who likely will pick up the vast majority of votes cast in the areas of Boro Park that are in the western part of the district.
Another question is whether Reid is helping on Stewart’s campaign. One Flatbush insider told this paper that Reid had called him up and asked him to help Stewart. “I don’t think there was any real stop to his involvement in the campaign, though he may be not as visible as before,” the source opined.
However, Stewart said, “Asquith isn’t working on my campaign. I haven’t seen him in quite a while. Even if he asked someone to do something, it doesn’t mean he’s running my campaign. That’s Mike Roberts. If he wants to help, fine, but there’s nothing he can do right now.”
The case will not be back in court till September, according to Marinaccio, who said that, as of now, no trial date had been set. Reid faces a maximum of 80 years in prison, should he be convicted on all counts, and Anderson faces a maximum of 40 years in prison, should she be convicted of all the charges.