Schenectady County

Ex-official of Schenectady nonprofit sentenced for theft

A former Schenectady nonprofit executive who was part of a series of indictments involving Peter You
Dawn LaCarte
Dawn LaCarte

A former Schenectady nonprofit executive who was part of a series of indictments involving Peter Young charity officials was sentenced Monday to a nearly $105,000 penalty and five years of probation.

Dawn LaCarte stole more than $50,000 from the nonprofit she oversaw, 820 River St. Inc., by writing paychecks to fake employees and cashing them herself. The nonprofit, headquartered in Schenectady, is devoted to job training and housing for the homeless and recovering addicts.

Another former official with Peter Young charities, Jacquelyn Gentile, onetime chief operating officer of two nonprofits under the broader umbrella of five nonprofits doing business across the state, is scheduled to be sentenced on Tuesday.

Gentile, who pleaded guilty in August, admitted to filing false reports on more than $600,000 of state funding. The reports claimed to have used the funding for a drug treatment center in Brooklyn but had actually been used to pay employees and fund programs in upstate New York.

Another former nonprofit employee, Brian Roe, has also pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

The sentencing hearings are the last phase of a years long investigation headed by the state Attorney General’s Office. Two other nonprofit officials, Dennis Bassat and James Mahoney, also pleaded guilty to charges in the investigation.

“Nonprofit organizations have a vital role to play in helping people who are down on their luck,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement Monday. “And my office has zero tolerance for individuals who would abuse their positions to steal charitable funds.”

The ongoing investigation ripped into the organization’s bottom line, tying up state funding and forcing the closure of operations in Altamont and near Syracuse. Father Peter Young, who started the nonprofit work more than 50 years ago, has maintained that he was unaware of the fraud committed at the nonprofits.

The organization’s current CEO, Bob McMahon, on Monday said the group has moved past the controversies and is focused on continuing to fulfill its mission to “offer hope and opportunity to the impoverished, the addicted, and the socially disenfranchised” through addiction treatment, housing guidance and job counseling.

McMahon, who was not around at the time the former officials were arrested, said the investigations have put “some restraints” in the organization’s funding, but that they have adopted new accountability protocols to assure that similar scandals aren’t repeated in the future.

“We certainly had some weaknesses that got pointed out in the investigation, but those were taken care of immediately,” McMahon said. “The weaknesses in terms of accountability and responsibility four, five, six years ago were all cleaned up a long time ago.”

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