Queens nonprofit executive turns himself in for allegedly pocketing $85K


| mhayes@queenscourier.com |

The executive of a Queens nonprofit group has turned himself into the authorities.

Van Holmes, the president of the Young Leaders Institute Inc., allegedly pocketed more than $85,000 by creating false records and forged documents which he filed through state and city agencies, according to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

The investigation, conducted by Schneiderman, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and the Department of Investigation, is looking into former State Senator Shirley Huntley’s possible involvement with the funds.

The criminal complaint alleges that from 2007 to 2010, Holmes obtained three member-item grants sponsored by Huntley. Sally Butler, Huntley’s lawyer, said the former pol’s only involvement was contributing money in support of Holmes’ youth program as well as other community groups.

In one incident, Holmes allegedly created false invoices and payment records to make it seem he had taken 50 youths on trips to a retreat center. But no such trips occurred, and Holmes instead took the funds for himself.

“Van Holmes pocketed tens of thousands of state and city taxpayer dollars meant to help low-income students and their families,” Schneiderman said. “The men and women elected to public office and put in charge of public service organizations have a special responsibility to protect the public interest.”

DiNapoli said Holmes allegedly used the stolen funds to pay for clothing, car repairs and theater tickets.

“It’s shameful,” he added.

Holmes is charged with grand larceny, forgery, falsifying business records and offering a false instrument for filing. If convicted, he could face to 15 years in prison.

 

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