In-depth: Alvarez Complaint Alleges Use of Straw Donors, Theft of $4500 in Public Money

Felony Complaint Alleges that Alvarez Knowingly Accepted Straw Donations; Stole at Least $4,500 in NYC Public Matching Funds


Albert Alvarez

Last week, Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced the arrest of former New York City Council candidate Albert Alvarez for allegedly accepting straw donations and stealing thousands of dollars in New York City public matching funds during Alvarez’s unsuccessful 2013 run for Council. The felony complaint filed today in New York County Supreme Court charges Alvarez with Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a class E felony, and Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony.

“Mr. Alvarez allegedly dodged campaign finance laws to illegally obtain matching funds,” said State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. “Thanks to the work of my investigators and auditors in partnership with Attorney General Schneiderman and Commissioner Peters’ offices, his scheme was exposed and he now faces felony charges.”

“New York City’s public financing system is not a piggy bank for criminals,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “As we allege, Mr. Alvarez took advantage of our campaign finance system, using straw donors and false filings to line his campaign’s coffers. We’ll continue to bring to justice those who abuse the law and violate the public trust”.

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman

Alvarez previously served as Chief of Staff to New York City Council Majority Leader Joel Rivera. In 2013, Alvarez ran for Rivera’s seat in the 15th New York City Council District, which covers the Central Bronx, but was unsuccessful in the Democratic primary. He lost to Ritchie Torres. If found guilty, Alvarez faces up to seven years in state prison.

The felony complaint filed last Friday alleges that while running for city council Alvarez accepted straw donations orchestrated by George Gonzalez and Anna Mendez, who were arraigned for their roles in the false filings on a separate felony complaint back on January 10, 2018. Mendez and Gonzalez allegedly reimbursed six other employees of an unidentified New York City-based nonprofit where they worked in order to contribute to Alvarez; employees who contributed by check or money order were reimbursed by Gonzalez. A review of records by The Bronx Chronicle reveals that the six workers in question may have been employed at the Tremont Crotona Family CCN.

AG Schneiderman’s complaint alleges that Gonzalez distributed contribution cards to these employees, which he had them falsely fill out in their own names while Alvarez watched. Alvarez then allegedly collected the money and the false contribution cards from the straw donors, and falsely submitted them to the New York City Campaign Finance Board. In addition to accepting and falsely submitting the straw donations, Alvarez allegedly stole at least $4,500 in public matching funds as a result of the straw donations submitted to the NYCCFB; the straw donations were all made at a level that would qualify toward Alvarez’s receipt of public matching funds.

The Comptroller and Attorney General worked with the NYC Department of Investigation in the investigation of Alvarez’s alleged scam.

DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters said, “This City Council candidate manipulated the campaign finance system, using fake donors and false filings to steal thousands of public dollars in matching funds, according to the charges. New York City’s public campaign finance system is a model for the country and DOI will continue to vigorously police its integrity. We are proud to work with the state Attorney General and state Comptroller to expose this defendant’s charged corruption.”

Since 2011, Comptroller DiNapoli and Attorney General Schneiderman have worked together to fight corruption through their Joint Task Force on Public Integrity. They have brought charges against dozens of individuals implicated in public corruption schemes around the state – resulting in the return of over $11 million in restitution to taxpayers through these convictions.

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