State officials have indicted former New York City Council candidate Alberto Alvarez with several felony charges for stealing at least $4,500 through campaign fraud, according to Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood’s office.
Underwood and Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced the indictment Wednesday, which also names former Tremont Crotona Day Care Center Executive Director Anna Mendez, who officials say helped Alvarez steal thousands in public matching funds.
As we allege, the defendants orchestrated a scheme to collect straw donations, steal public matching funds, and submit false filings – undermining the public's trust in our government and political process,” Underwood said in a statement. “Today’s indictments should send a clear message that we will not tolerate those that skirt the law for their own benefit.”
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Alberto Alvarez & alleged campaign fraud
Alvarez unsuccessfully ran for Joel Rivera’s City Council seat in the 15th district in 2013. Before that, Alvarez was was Rivera’s Chief of Staff.
While running for City Council, Alvarez allegedly “knowingly accepted straw donations” which were organized by Mendez and one of her employees at the Tremont Crotona Day Care Center in the Bronx, according to Underwood’s office.
Mendez and that employee allegedly provided funds to other staffers to contribute to Alvarez’s campaign. They then gave out contribution cards to employees, officials say, instructing them to “falsey make out” the cards in their own names.
Officials say Alvarez then “collected the money and false contribution cards from the straw donors and falsely submitted them to the New York City Campaign Finance Board in order to steal at least $4,500 in public matching funds.”
Alvarez was first arrested for this campaign fraud in Feb. 2018 after an investigation by the Attorney General’s office (when Eric Schneiderman was in office), the state Comptroller’s office and the NYC Department of Investigation.
Alvarez and Mendez have been indicted for seven counts of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree (a class E felony). Alvarez is also charged with one count of grand larceny in the third degree (a class D felony) and Mendez was indicted for three additional counts of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree.
Mr. Alvarez and Ms. Mendez allegedly schemed to funnel straw donations to Mr. Alvarez's campaign and steal matching campaign funds from New York City,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “Thanks to the work of my investigators in partnership with Attorney General Barbara Underwood and the New York City Department of Investigations, both of these individuals have been indicted and will face the consequences of their actions.”