The probe into vacation-loving Efrain González’s dealings began in 2006 after the city Department of Investigation, examining the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club, discovered evidence he had siphoned money out of a related not-for-profit he’d funded with taxpayer dollars.
Prosecutors charged González used his position as a State Senator to favor a not-for-profit group called Pathways for Youth with about $200,000 in state funds through member items. They said Pathways directed more than $400,000 to another not-for-profit group, the West Bronx Neighborhood Association, which González founded, and which also solicited money from individual and corporate donors.
Prosecutors said that González misappropriated more than $500,000 from West Bronx to pay expenses like membership fees in a vacation club in the Dominican Republic, rent for a luxury apartment there, jewelry, Yankees tickets and college tuition for his daughter. They called the group a “phony charity” and said Mr. González had used it as “his personal piggy bank.”
If that wasn’t enough, he actually used taxpayer money to fund the design and printing of cigar bands for his own cigar company. We swear we’re not making this up.
González pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy and two counts of mail fraud in 2009 and now is serving a sentence of up to seven years in federal prison. Three of his associates, including one former aide, also pled guilty to related charges.