Congressmember Meeks refutes reports of financial wrongdoing


| lguerre@queenscourier.com |

The Courier/photo by Liam La Guerre
The Courier/photo by Liam La Guerre

A local politician refuted published reports of financial wrongdoing concerning a nonprofit organization to whom he allocated millions in taxpayer money.

Congressmember Gregory Meeks denied that federal authorities are investigating him for any issues with federal funds he secured for the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (GJDC).

Instead, he blasted a local newspaper and national group for targeting Democrats.

“I’ve never been investigated in regards to this investigation,” Meeks said in an appearance on Good Day NY. “I don’t know why the [New York] Post headline says ‘Feds question Meeks.’ I’ve never been questioned.”

Meeks said The New York Post and the National Legal Policy Center (NLPC), a group dedicated to promoting ethics, are actually in “cahoots” and come up with “ridiculous stories” in an attempt to take down Democrats.

“They are going after President [Barack] Obama,” Meeks explained.

Recently, the NLPC has reported on corruption stories involving various Democratic leaders, but the group said it reports objectively.

“We’re not out to get anybody, we’re a non partisan organization,” Carl Horowitz, a project manager of NLPC, said. “We don’t play party favorites.”

Horowitz added, “We don’t particularly care what the race or the party system is. We do believe the smaller the government is the less opportunity for corruption.”

The reported allegations of Meeks stem from a New York Post exclusive article, which said the U.S. Attorney’s Office issued a subpoena to the GJDC.

A representative of the organization confirmed the subpoena was received about six months ago and the GJDC complied with the federal office’s requests. However, the group said they were not the target of the subpoena and the federal office did not inform them who was.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office did not identify the target of the investigation to the GJDC,” said spokesperson Fred Winters. “Greater Jamaica cooperated fully at that time. It was for documentation. They [the GJDC] turned over everything that the U.S. Attorney is looking for.”

Robert Nardoza of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Eastern District refused to comment on the target of the subpoena.

Meeks has worked closely with the GJDC on several projects to develop areas in Jamaica. He has helped secure some of their grants.

One of these projects includes $9.2 million to transform an LIRR underpass from a dark corridor to a lit shopping arcade.

The project was completed about a month ago and tenants have yet to move into the shops because of minor problems with the buildings, which contractors have to finish first.

“You can’t move people into a site which they are still working on,” Winters said. “Greater Jamaica has made arrangements with two cultural intuitional groups [BroLab and chashama] to occupy it when it’s available.”

Meeks helped the GJDC get $21 million in tax credits to complete housing, retail shops and a hotel near the Jamaica LIRR area, according to the Post article.

The Post’s piece also reported that Greater Jamaica failed to develop a building it purchased from the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey for $2.7 million since 2004, and has until August 20 to locate a developer or the Port Authority would retake the building.

“The Port Authority has given the GJDC more time to develop a site that been troublesome for some time now,” Winters confirmed. “The economy and finances for funding new development have been very difficult. We just put out a new request for proposals.”

Meeks has had a history with the Post, which published reports of his alleged corruption concerning a charity to help Hurricane Katrina victims in 2010, and an unreported $40,000 he borrowed from a friend in 2007.

But Meeks said he has been cleared of charges in those investigations.

“There have been no reports by the city and Port Authority about missing money,” Meeks said. “We all are focused on trying to make sure that Greater Jamaica does what it’s been doing and that is creating opportunities and development, especially commercial development, for the people.”