How You Helped Us Solve a $3 Million Mystery

Monday, December 09, 2013

A panel appointed by Governor Cuomo to investigate corruption in Albany charged last week that lawmakers were steering millions in taxpayer funds to a Brooklyn nonprofit that seemed to be providing little in the way of services. The blistering report provided tantalizing clues as to the identity of the nonprofit - but stopped just short of naming names. Now that mystery is solved - though many questions remain about just what the public is getting for its money.

WNYC asked listeners to help figure out the identity of the nonprofit singled out by the state Moreland Commission.

One listener turned out to have some special expertise: Robert Gearty, a former investigative reporter for the New York Daily News, took a look at records showing the millions of dollars in grants legislators steered to organizations and pet projects.  One clue in the report - that the nonprofit also had offices in two foreign countries - pointed him toward a Boro Park group called Relief Resources.

And then WNYC heard from reporter Nick Powell of City & State, a publication that reports closely on government affairs. A source familiar with the investigation confirmed for Powell that Relief Resources is, indeed, the mystery nonprofit mentioned in the Moreland report.

Benjamin Babad, Relief Resources' program director, told WNYC on Friday that our call was the first he was hearing about the Moreland Commission. He said the nonprofit has served thousands of people - but did not return further calls on Monday seeking more information.

Nick Powell of City & State contributed reporting.



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Comments [10]

KELLY CAMPBELL from Northportk NY

I, too, am wondering what happened after this report. Are you following up?

Jan. 15 2014 09:06 AM

Thanks for the reporting and uncovering details of tax dollar waste. I'm left wondering - as I so often am with gov't corruption stories - what happened next? Did the nonprofit front keep the money? Were the lawmakers named? Is anyone held responsible?
It's especially disappointing news because there are tens of thousands of people who could benefit from that wasted money: school children, people needing a hot meal or warm bed, or people paying high taxes in part because of govt waste.

Dec. 27 2013 11:24 AM

While I am not at all familiar with this case, as an Orthodox Jew (who, for the purposes of this discussion at least, could be considered "Hasidic"), I feel compelled to note the following. For some time now, the Orthodox and, especially, Hasidic communities have been suffering from both a general crisis in leadership as well as a number of specific disputes. I know from personal experience that all of these communities still possess many fine people. But alas, we no longer possess the type of exceptional individuals with that rare combination of outstanding righteousness, wisdom, foresight, scholarship, affability and other qualities that accounted for the competence, effectiveness and near-universalacceptance that our great leaders of the past enjoyed. Of the righteous, wise and learned men who do remain, some (if not /many/) are naive and largely unaware of worldly affairs. Such men are exploited both by those who may mean well but are irresponsible, rash and short-sighted, as well as by those who have less-than-noble motivations. Any power that those with integrity who /are/ savvy have is at best limited. This is an essential factor to bear in mind when discussing issues that relate to the Orthodox and Hasidic communities. (This state of chaos, confusion and corruption is all predicted in the Talmud and other texts.)

Dec. 10 2013 12:25 PM
DStumpo from NYC

Show me a list of THE POLITICIANS who voted and gave Money,and I'll show you who,s corruption list

Dec. 10 2013 09:48 AM
John from office

I sense the involvment of Hasidim. This goes on all the time, it is just politics. Go to Rockland County, you will see entire hasidic areas living on section 8 housing grants, insured by political power.

Nothing will get done.

Dec. 10 2013 09:20 AM
Joel from Nyack

I just looked at Relief Resources web site. It lists the usual, services, press releases, referrals , medical advisory board, etc. I would like to know if anyone has contacted any members of the "medical advisory board", a seemingly impressive list, with questions about their relationship to this organization? If this organization is providing little or no actual services with our taxpayer money, where are the funds being diverted? Also, what is the basis for the Moreland Commissions' lack of cojones in naming names. Who are they afraid of?

Dec. 10 2013 08:28 AM
Sammo from NYC

Dear Gov. Cuomo,
Not only corruption, waste is also eating away at our tax dollars. I know people in the court system that just sit and do nothing because the bosses who hired them didn't know their inability (that also shows how "able" these bosses are). Now, they just sit around. Then, the court system is divvied up into power corners anyway. There was recent talk of "consolidating" the courts in terms of administration, IT, etc..... Nothing happened yet.

Dec. 10 2013 07:30 AM
Jesse from Greenpoint

Would like to see more investigative digging like this into politicians in NYC, this is great, see what happens next. Shady that is was not revealed in the report since they spent millions of our money to surveil them for 25 days!

see 990 here: but it wont list the money from Sheldon silver and his allies...

CEO is also President of Premium Health, Inc.

easy pickings here if any one digs and prosecutes

Dec. 09 2013 07:34 PM

UN believable. corruption happens all the time, but to actually see it in clear data online just enrages.

here is their website:

basically, it is nothing but a template website, with links to social services provided by other organizations. there is nothing there but more links.

so WHO is stealing the money being funneled here???

sick F**King people.

Dec. 09 2013 06:52 PM
Barbara Fisher

Has Relief Resources made available the annual IRS 990 and NYS Char 500 that detail income, source of income, expenditures and service provided to justify the tax exempt status? These are supposed to be available upon request.

Dec. 09 2013 06:48 PM

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