A high-ranking officer in the Peter Young Housing, Industries and Treatment program was indicted Wednesday, accused of diverting more than $1 million in state funds elsewhere in the organization.
Among the allegations against Jacquelyn Gentile are that she diverted money from the Schenectady-based charity that was intended to help people and instead using it to plug deficits and pay salaries.
Among the salaries the money allegedly helped pay was a $50,000 job for former Assemblyman William F. Boyland Sr., which the state Attorney General’s Office contends was essentially a no-show job.
Gentile was and remains chief operating officer of Peter Young subsidiaries 820 River Street Inc. and The Altamont Program.
The organization’s head, the Rev. Peter Young, was in court Wednesday supporting Gentile. Gentile denies any wrongdoing, according to her attorney, Andrew Safranko.
Safranko called the case a “political witch hunt” based on the allegations related to Boyland.
Gentile faces a multi-count indictment that includes first-degree grand larceny. If convicted on that count, she faces up to 81⁄3 to 25 years in prison. Gentile faces a total of 15 felony charges.
Gentile, 47, appeared Wednesday morning in Schenectady County Court and pleaded not guilty to all the charges. Outside the courtroom, Young said he stands by Gentile and supports her. All the funds, he said, were used to help those in need.
The allegations are that she diverted more than $1 million in state funds to alleviate organizational deficits and pay employee salaries, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.
“This indictment sends the message that there has to be one set of rules for everyone and that those who use a charity to rip off New Yorkers will be prosecuted,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a news release. “New York has the greatest nonprofit sector in the country, and this case reminds us that we must vigilantly protect it.”
Gentile is also accused of falsifying business records by completing false time sheets for Boyland. The Attorney General’s Office noted then-Assemblyman William F. Boyland Jr. appropriated about $1.5 million in state funds for the organization through his legislative sponsorship.
Authorities allege Boyland Sr. didn’t work the hours recorded and Gentile knew it. Ninety percent of his $50,000 salary was covered by government funds.
The funds came between 2005 and 2009. Both Boylands represented part of Brooklyn. Neither faces charges related to the case. Boyland Jr., however, is in jail awaiting sentencing after his conviction on unrelated charges.
The Peter Young organization covers five nonprofit subsidiaries in the state. They provide addiction treatment and housing, as well as job services, according to its website. Its goal, according to the site, is to create taxpayers out of people who otherwise wouldn’t be.
The investigation dates to 2012 and a large seizure of documents that December. Gentile also spoke with investigators then and was later informed she was the target of a grand jury investigation.
The Attorney General’s Office alleges witnesses have described to investigators a “culture of corruption” within the organization. The investigation continues, officials said.
Gentile has worked with the organization nearly 30 years.
Gentile turned herself in Wednesday morning. She was led into court in handcuffs, still in street clothes. The handcuffs were removed for the proceedings. At one point, she was offered a chair, but declined.
After hearing arguments, Judge Richard Giardino set bail at $25,000. A bond was posted in court and she was released.
Giardino set the bail after confirming with Assistant Attorney General Darren Miller the allegations do not include her taking any of the money for herself.
The prosecutor asked for the $25,000 figure. The defense asked for release without bail.
Outside court, Safranko seized on the prosecutor’s assertion that none of the money went to Gentile.
“There’s absolutely nothing criminal here,” Safranko said. “They’ve had a 20-month investigation. This investigation has been a political witch hunt from the get-go.”
All the money went to benefit the people it was intended to benefit, Safranko said.
He said he believe’s Young’s testimony will be able to clear Gentile. Young was not allowed to testify before the grand jury, Safranko said.
“We look forward to trial, where Father Young can testify and speak freely and answer all these questions,” Safranko said, “because, simply, Jackie Gentile did nothing wrong.”
Young called Gentile a person of “complete integrity.”
Since the investigation began, certain contracts have been impossible to get, Young said. That means the loss of millions of dollars that would have gone to help those in need.
The organization operates 18 certified addiction treatment facilities in the state, according to its website. It serves the homeless, parolees and veterans, among others, according to the website.
“So I feel bad because the residents, the clients, are getting hurt,” Young said. “They’re suffering. They’re the people that are in need of care. They’re suffering.”
Gentile is the fifth high-ranking organization employee to be charged with felonies in connection with that investigation. Two of them admitted to taking $200,000 from the organization, according to the Attorney General’s Office.