Local pastor, 7 non-profit employees arrested for welfare fraud

first-israel-welfare-fraud

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) –  A local pastor and his wife involved in a widespread welfare fraud scheme have been issued a restraining order.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the restraining order prohibits them from moving money in or out of the church’s community services program.

Eight employees at the Israel Community Services Program, or ICSP, were arrested for welfare fraud, but the investigation goes even deeper.

The individuals claim they were simply volunteers with ICSP, but records obtained by NEWS10 ABC alleged Rev. Edward Smart lined his pockets with tens of thousands of dollars from the non-profit’s bank account.

Rev. Smart has been an influential pastor at New York’s oldest black church, First Israel African Methodist Episcopal in Albany. But he, his wife, Marion, and six other church members were arrested for welfare fraud.

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said the individuals did not report their income while employed at ICSP, a non-profit child care center.

“They filled out multiple forms, and they received several checks totaling upwards of $42,000, I believe,” he explained.

But there’s more.

According to a complaint filed with the attorney general’s office, Rev. Smart helped himself to more than $30,000 of ICSP’s money. Records obtained by NEWS10 show Rev. Smart wrote two checks in one month to himself, which totaled $10,100.

“That was quite a jolt,” Rev. Maurice Drown said.

Drown is a former vice chair of the board of directors. He was shocked with the findings.

“Pastor Smart has been greatly inspiring in worship, and most of us don’t know what to do with this,” he said.

Drown said the center has helped a number of high school dropouts, and he doesn’t want to see the services suffer.

“Over 240 of them have already gotten their GED, jobs, and more than 30 have graduated from college,” he said. “So it’s been a very rewarding endeavor. I’m very hopeful that all that can continue.”

NEWS10 went to Rev. Smart’s home on Friday. No one answered the door.

He has not been charged, yet, in the allegations that have been filed with the AG’s office.

The investigation remains ongoing.

 

The eight defendants and their charges:

KENYA M. THOMAS (36) of Albany, New York was charged with one count of Grand larceny in the fourth degree (a class E felony) and one count of Welfare fraud in the fourth degree (a class E felony).

MYEISHA COURTWRIGHT (29) of Albany, New York was charged with one count of Grand larceny in the fourth degree (a class E felony) and one count of Welfare fraud in the fourth degree (a class E felony).

FREDERICK L. MALLORY (58) of Albany, New York was charged with one count of Welfare fraud in the fourth degree (a class E felony), one count of Offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree (a class E felony), and one count of Grand larceny in the fourth degree (a class E felony).

STEPHANIE M. MCLEAN (32) of Albany, New York was charged with one count of Grand larceny in the fourth degree (a class E felony) and one count of Welfare fraud in the fourth degree (a class E felony).

JONATHAN DANIELS (56) of Albany, New York was charged with one count of Grand larceny in the third degree (a class D felony), one count of Welfare fraud in the third degree (a class D felony), and one count of Offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree (a class E felony).

ROSLYN W. THOMAS (52) of Albany, New York was charged with one count of Grand larceny in the third degree (a class D felony), one count of Welfare fraud in the third degree (a class D felony), and one count of Offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree (a class E felony).

EDWARD B. SMART (65) of Albany, New York was charged with one count of Grand larceny in the third degree (a class D felony), one count of Welfare fraud in the third degree (a class D felony), and eight counts of Offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree (a class E felony).

MARION D. SMART (50) of Albany, New York was charged with one count of Grand larceny in the third degree (a class D felony), one count of Welfare fraud in the third degree (a class D felony), and one count of Offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree (a class E felony).

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