Guilty plea in Ridgewood Bushwick fraud case

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).

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.

Her guilty plea ends the investigation, said Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan, the special prosecutor in the case. A source close to the DA said that his pursuit of Crespo included an investigation of the principals at Ridgewood Bushwick and the charity’s connection to Lopez — a probe that will now be left to others.

“Tyess Crespo’s actions … produced no actionable evidence of criminal conduct by any party beyond [her],” said Donovan, who reminded the public that federal prosecutors are still investigating Lopez and Ridgewood Bushwick.

“The disposition of [the Crespo] 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,” he warned.