SPECIAL INVESTIGATIVE REPORT
Kenneth Plummer of Kensworth Consulting
Mayor Clinton I. Young Jr.
County Legislator Lyndon D. Williams
Former City Councilman and newly appointed Planning Board Member Marcus Griffith
Mayor Young Crony and Alleged partner of Kensworth Consulting James (Jamie) Dickerson
Mayor Clinton Young and his cronies must be on the edge of their seats after last week’s indictment of Yonkers officials on corruption and bribery charges. Former Councilwoman Sandy Annabi, Former Yonkers GOP Chairman Zehy Jereis, and politically connected attorney Anthony Mangone were indicted on extortion, bribery and a slew of other federal charges.
Federal authorities need to look just a little north of the Bronx City line and starting probing former Council members Eileen Justino, Marcus Griffith, and William Randolph to see if those council members were not paid off by Atlantic Development or any of their entities in exchange for their vote passing a resolution authorizing the City Council to act as lead agency for the massive affordable housing complex Atlantic Development is proposing to build on Gramatan Ave.
Just this week, sources have told Mount Vernon Exposed, that former Councilmember Marcus Griffith and Michael Justino were appointed by Mayor Young to the Planning Board. Michael Justino is the husband of embattled former Councilmember Eileen Justino. Michael Justino is also a Democratic district leader and an ardent supporter of Mayor Clinton Young. Eileen Justino came under fire for her vote approving the controversial $21M bonds back in November. It has also been speculated that Eileen Justino was the ringleader of the anonymous and slanderous campaign material that was disseminated through the Fleetwood community against Comptroller Maureen Walker.
Mayor Young crony and campaign consultant Kenneth Plummer of Kensworth Consulting has been retained by a firm that had their offices raided in April 2009 by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and the NYC Department of Investigation. Kenneth Plummer of Kensworth Consulting has reported to the NYS Commission on Public Integrity that he has already received more than $5,000 in “fees” from the embattled developer. According to documents obtained by Mount Vernon Exposed, Plummer has been retained to lobby Legislator Lyndon Williams, The Mount Vernon City Council and Mayor Young. Plummer and his firm Kensworth Consulting have received tens of thousands of dollars in payments from Mayor Young and Legislator Williams for “consulting” work on their campaigns. Peter Fine, co-owner of Atlantic Development, also made a substantial donation to Mayor Young during his campaign for Mayor. It is unclear if the proposed development was discussed prior to Fine’s campaign contribution.
The Daily News reported that one target of the Manhattan District Attorney’s probe is Boricua Village, a development that sprang up in the Bronx. Atlantic Development executives gave more than $50,000 in political contributions to former Bronx Borough President Aldopho Carrion. Bronx Borough President Aldolpho Carrion recommended approval for the Boricua Village project and also sponsored $7.5M of taxpayer funds for the project.
Last week Mount Vernon Exposed put in several calls to Atlantic Development. When we first started to make inquiries into Atlantic Development/Bio Rio’s proposed development in Mount Vernon, we were told that we needed to speak to Bryan Kelly. The young lady that answered the phone said Kelly was the project manager for the Mount Vernon project. On Tuesday January 5th, 2009, Mount Vernon Exposed received a call from Michael Stolper who identified himself as Executive Vice-President and General Counsel to Atlantic Development. Mount Vernon Exposed engaged in a 17 minute tape recorded interview with Michael Stolper to get clarity on issues of great public concern.
Manhattan District Attorney’s Criminal Probe of Atlantic Development
Investigators as they leave the offices of Atlantic Development Group
Atlantic Development Group Executive Peter Fine
Michael Stolper told Mount Vernon Exposed that “misinformation” was reported on Mount Vernon Exposed’s site regarding the criminal investigation that we previously reported. Mount Vernon Exposed explained to Mr. Stopler that we simply read the story as printed in The Daily News and Crain’s and reported what we read. Stopler further stated that articles printed in The Daily News and Crain’s articles were “misinformation” and proceeded to direct our attention to the Manhattan District Attorney’s website. Stopler said the District Attorney announced the results if it’s investigation on October 1st, 2009 and subsequently issued a press release. CLICK HERE TO READ MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY PRESS RELEASE NOW Stopler, a sharp attorney, failed to indicate which investigation he was referring to. The press release issued by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office was about the arrest of 29 individuals associated with The Luchese Crime Family. Crain’s reported that the Manhattan District Attorney’s office is investigating Atlantic Development for its hiring practices. It has been reported that the Manhattan D.A. is investigating the hiring of undocumented workers and the payment of sub-standard wages at work sites operated by Atlantic Development. At the December 16th, public hearing there were several young men present that spoke in favor of the project and said on record that they excited to work on this proposed project. The young men further stated that they are allies of County Legislator Lyndon Williams.
The Daily News reported that sources have told them that Atlantic Development is being investigated to see whether they illegally influenced local politicians to win approval for its many projects. The Daily News also reported that Marc Althiem, co-owner of Atlantic Development is a target of the investigation. Stolper was asked did he demand a retraction from the Daily News about the “misinformation” that was reported. Stolper replied NO. Stolper was also asked did his company Atlantic Development issue a press release stating that the Daily News and the other media outlets reported “misinformation. Stolper replied” we are not in the business of issuing press releases”, however Atlantic Development wasted no time issuing a press release in January 2009 stating that Stolper was hired as Executive Vice President and General Counsel.
Atlantic Development chose to issue a press release about a new hire but chose not to issue a press release to set the record straight about the Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation and the “misinformation” printed The Daily News and various other media outlets. Stolper made several contradictory statements during the 17 minute tape recorded interview. Stoler said that Atlantic Development was never told that they are the target of the investigation but also added that the Manhattan District Attorney’s office never confirms of denies the existence of an investigation.
Sandy Annabi Federal Indictment
When we questioned Stolper about the lobbyist of record according to the NYS Commission on Public Integrity, Stolper seemed a bit puzzled and went silent for a moment. Mount Vernon Exposed asked Stolper about Kensworth Consulting and payments of $6,000 paid to Kensworth Consulting to lobby Mount Vernon officials. Mount Vernon Exposed asked Stolper if Atlantic Development/Blue Rio LLC is paying Kensworth Consulting $2,000 per month as indicated on reports filed with the NYS Commission on Public Integrity. Stolper replied “I believe the public record on that is clear, but the information that you have is wrong”. “We are not paying any lobbyist $2,000 per month, he added.”
There are a number of issues that are of great concern with Stolper’s remarks. Stopler told Mount Vernon Exposed that he is the point person for this project and has been to Mount Vernon on several occasions. Stolper should have readily known the name of the firm that his company retained to lobby for a multimillion development project in Mount Vernon. This brings us back to the Ridge Hill project in Yonkers, the subject of a federal corruption probe. Stolper insisted that the public record filed by Kensworth Consulting is incorrect. That statement made by Stoper raises even more questions and warrants the need for a federal investigation into the players involved in this enterprise.
Stolper recited from memory contents from a story previously published by Mount Vernon Exposed, but could readily recall the name of the lobbying company retained by Atlantic Development/Blue Rio, LLC or the amount of funds that were disbursed by Atlantic Development/Blue Rio, LLC to Kensworth Consulting. Something does not add up.
Stolper told Mount Vernon Exposed that Atlantic Development/Blue Rio, LLC would be applying for a PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) with the Mount Vernon Industrial Development Program. At the December 16th, 2009 public hearing Atlantic Development failed to mention to the public that they would be seeking a PILOT agreement.
A PILOT agreement is usually used as an incentive for investment in taxable infrastructure or other facilities that create a public benefit. PILOT’s may be negotiated to limit or defer the property taxes on a developer, striking a balance between public and private economic needs. In effect, the local taxpayers are subsidizing the development, which might otherwise have gone elsewhere.
The project being proposed by Atlantic Development is not a public benefit. In fact, in the unlikely chance that this project is approved, it would have a severe negative impact for residents immediately surrounding the project. The already cash strapped Mount Vernon School District would also suffer tremendously if Atlantic Development were to be granted a PILOT.
School Board Trustee Charles Stern recently spoke out against a development that was proposing a PILOT agreement.
Atlantic Development Pilot Proposal
School Board Trustee's Charles Stern letter to IDA
INSPECTOR GENERAL REPORT ON IDA AND PILOT PROGRAM
During Stolper’s interview with Mount Vernon Exposed, he requested that we address our concerns with the project by sending him an e-mail. We did just that and our e-mail was never answered.
Here is the email that was sent to Michael Stopler at Atlantic Development.
Good Afternoon Mr. Stolper,
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me this afternoon. As I mentioned during our telephone conversation myself and the community at large have some concerns about this proposed development.
1. Pilot Program- Your company mentioned in the DEIS that you will be seeking a PILOT with the Mount Vernon IDA. Can this project be built without a PILOT agreement? The Mount Vernon School District currently cannot support the students with the budget that is in place now. A PILOT agreement with the City of Mount Vernon with have a further negative impact on the already cash strapped school system.
2. Density- The site being proposed for this project is an already dense location and many residents that live in the neighborhood directly surrounding this project are opposed to any development in this neighborhood whatsoever. Is Atlantic Development willing to build at an alternate location in the City of Mount Vernon?
3. Lobby Group- The NYS Commission on Public Integrity confirmed that an entity of Atlantic Development-Blue Rio, LLC has retained Kensworth Consulting as a lobbyist and has paid out over $6,000 in fees “to provide direction in order to get approvals”. Kensworth Consulting is a fundraiser for Mayor Young and County Legislator Lyndon Williams, the same person Atlantic Development/Blue Rio, LLC is paying to lobby. Peter Fine, partner of Atlantic Development, gave a $1,700 contribution to Mayor Young during his campaign for Mayor. Does Atlantic Development see this as a conflict of interest? How did Atlantic Development come to know about Kenneth Plummer and James Dickerson, the persons advocating for this project. What is the amount of the agreement with Kensworth Consulting?
4. Community Meetings-What community groups and/or persons from the community have Atlantic Development/Blue Rio, LLC spoken and/or met with?
I have sent your contact information to the school board members, community leaders, and the neighborhood organizations. They will be contacting you in the very near future to set up a community meeting. I have also reached out to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and I have viewed their website. The press release dated October 1st, 2009 is an investigation totally separate from Atlantic Development.
Atlantic Development/Blue Rio LLC and Kensworth Consulting must make full disclosure about their business relationship. Mount Vernon taxpayers must know about the birth of this relationship. Did Mayor Young steer this developer to Kensworth Consulting?
In November 2009, Mount Vernon Exposed received information that Federal Agents were in City Hall during the month of August 2009. During the their visit to City Hall sources have told Mount Vernon Exposed that they paid a visit to the law department to request documents. Mount Vernon Exposed was told that the reason for their visit was to investigate the Atlantic Development project being proposed on Gramatan Avenue and to obtain copies and tapes of prior city council and zoning board meetings.
Mount Vernon Exposed filed a freedom of information request on November 24th, 2009. Mount Vernon Exposed requested a “copy of any and all documents dropped off by or given to Federal Agents during their visit to City Hall for the month of August 2009.”
Mount Vernon City Officials responded to our request stating “Need for More Information for Public Access to Records.” The mere fact that the City of Mount Vernon did not deny the visit of Federal Agents to Hall in August 2009 leads many to believe that these allegations are true.