A former human resources worker at East Harlem nonprofit Hope Community, Inc. is facing charges for allegedly siphoning company money into accounts owner by herself, friends and family.
Chantel Rodriguez Pierre has been charged with five felony counts including grand larceny, criminal tax fraud and repeated failure to file personal income and earnings taxes, according to an indictment from New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
When Hope Community outsourced its payroll management to a third-party vendor in 2014 Rodriguez Pierre improperly told the vendor that the nonprofit had a policy of paying out unused vacation time, according to the indictment.
Over a year-and-a-half span Rodriguez Pierre instructed the vendor to pay out unused vacation time and other reimbursements for several employees into accounts controlled by her and acquaintances, officials said to source.
“Diverting funding intended to help some of our most vulnerable citizens is reprehensible. We will not allow non-profits that are supposed to serve the public good to be used as personal piggybanks,” said Attorney General Schneiderman in a statement. “Today’s charges send a strong message that personal enrichment at the expense of other New Yorkers will not be tolerated.”
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Hope Community is an East Harlem-based nonprofit that manages affordable housing in the neighborhood. Since its creation in 1968 the organization has helped preserve 2100 units of affordable housing for low- and middle-income residents of East Harlem. Currently the organization manages 1300 rental units in 78 buildings, according to its website.
“This human resources manager was entrusted with protecting the best interests of her organization and employees,” Department of Investigations Commissioner Mark Peters said in a statement. “Instead she now faces charges of cheating them by steering hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll funds from the not-for-profit designated by the City to provide shelter for homeless New Yorkers.”