Monday, June 2, 2008

Vote Ognibene! He'll be slushing on Day 1

The practice of stashing funds in the city budget through allotments to phantom organizations goes back at least a decade, The Post has learned.

An investigation of budget documents shows phantom groups first appearing in fiscal year 1998, when $150,000 was allocated to "Elder Statesmen" - a name identified by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn as phony.


In interviews with a dozen current and former council and mayoral staffers, The Post was told that the practice - which it revealed has hidden as much as $17 million since 2001 and which has brought on federal and city investigations - began in the Giuliani administration, when Tom Ognibene was a councilmember and part of the leadership.

In Ognibene's last budget, for fiscal year 2002, there were five phony groups. In [Gifford] Miller's, there were 16. However, if Ognibene returns that number could reach well into the hundreds.

As coffers swelled, the amount of money funneled to fake groups also grew, with annual sums reaching the millions.

Vote Ognibene! He'll be slushing on Day 1

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