The city has been investigating the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, a Bushwick-based charity with $69 million in city contracts, and its highly paid CEO, Christiana Fisher, for more than a year. This week, a Department of Investigation report found that Fisher forged financial documents and then lied about it. Here’s a timeline of the probe:
February, 2008: Ridgewood Bushwick’s board convenes and votes on executive compensation for the charity’s top staff.
July, 2008: Fisher gives Ridgewood Bushwick’s accountant “status change forms” authorizing the pay increase, which nearly doubles her biweekly salary.
January, 2010: Department of Investigation launches an inquiry after a city agency claims to have discovered fraudulent activity at a Ridgewood Bushwick community center.
April, 2010: A Department of Investigation report finds that a Ridgewood Bushwick employee falsified attendance sheets and collected money from the city. The investigation widens.
May, 2010: Ridgewood Bushwick’s tax preparer, fearing an audit, asks Fisher to ensure that the board approved pay raises.
July, 2010: Department of Investigation asks Ridgewood Bushwick for its salary documents. Fisher tells her human resources director that three board resolutions have been “re-created” because the originals have been misplaced.
August, 2010: The mayor’s office of contracts questions Fisher’s 2009 compensation, causing Ridgewood Bushwick to file an amended tax return with the IRS. Fisher faxes salary information to the charity’s tax preparer, justifies the pay increases as being “retroactive” for previous years, and the preparer reduces Fisher’s reported compensation from $660,000 to $260,000.
September, 2010: Ridgewood Bushwick gives the Department of Investigation documents about executive compensation, making Fisher’s raise public; federal prosecutors subpoenas documents relating to the charity’s accounts.
December, 2010: The Ridgewood Bushwick employee under investigation since January pleads guilty to defrauding the city of $4,000.
January, 2010: A Department of Youth and Community Development audit finds that Ridgewood Bushwick spent $203,784 for purposes outside the scope of its contract. Fisher steps down as head of Ridgewood Bushwick’s homecare subsidiary.
May, 2011: Ridgewood Bushwick files second amended return that admits “misstatements” in executive compensation.
July, 2011: Ridgewood Bushwick files amended returns for the past three years, providing missing information regarding executive compensation.
August, 2011: A Human Resources Administration audit finds that Ridgewood Bushwick’s homecare program overbilled the agency $125,000 to pay for Fisher’s salary, used counterfeit checks in payroll and expense accounts, and had a $1.24 million discrepancy in its bank account in 2008.
— Aaron Short
Reach reporter Aaron Short at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2547.