Guilty plea in Ridgewood Bushwick fraud case

The Brooklyn Paper

A former employee of a Bushwick-based nonprofit facing a federal investigation pleaded guilty this week of defrauding the city of $4,080.

Tyess Crespo, 33, admitted to filling out fake attendance sheets and seeking payment from the city for a self-defense class that was never held on behalf of the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, a nonprofit founded and supported by Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D–Bushwick).

Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan, the special prosecutor in the case, announced that his probe of Ridgewood Bushwick was done now that the Crespo case was wrapped up — but other officials can continue investigating the nonprofit.

“Tyess Crespo’s actions … produced no actionable evidence of criminal conduct by any party beyond [her],” said Donovan, but he hastened to add that “the disposition of this matter should not be taken as an indication of a resolution of any other possible investigations of Ridgewood Bushwick or affiliated individuals undertaken by other law enforcement entities.”

City investigators uncovered the fraudulent activity in April and arrested Crespo, who was suspended and terminated by Ridgewood Bushwick.

Crespo’s superiors at Ridgewood Bushwick told city investigators that they had no knowledge of Crespo’s behavior and of any fraudulent activity at the Hope Gardens MultiService Center where Crespo was stationed — despite a city investigation uncovering several incidents of phantom programs and falsified reimbursement documents.

To date, no other Ridgewood Bushwick employees have been implicated or prosecuted from any government investigation, though federal and state probes continue.

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