New York City’s Attorney General has accused the long-standing organizers of the city’s National Puerto Rican Day Parade with “extreme negligence” and one of its board members with financial mismanagement.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has concluded, after a lengthy investigation, that board member Carlos Velasquez mismanaged $1.4 million in corporate donations given to support one of the country’s best-known ethnic parades.
Velasquez served on the board of the Puerto Rican Day Parade and his company the Galos Corporation was the board’s long-term marketing agency. He had permission to collect a fee for donations he secured and was given a very generous expense allowance – clearly that wasn’t enough.
The investigation uncovered that since 2008 Velasquez skimmed over $1 million in donations for his personal use. He used air travel vouchers donated to the association for his own use and booked donations at a fraction of face value so that he could personally benefit from the donations not recorded.
The investigation implicated the board’s lax oversight and poor management as to why they failed to detect Velasquez’ double-dealing. The parade organizers did not have an annual budget or conduct audits of its cash flow. The board went as far as renewing the Galos company contract when the organization was severely in debt.
As a result of the investigation the future of the NYC’s Puerto Rican Parade, held every June, is in doubt. Schneiderman’s office dismissed half of the parade’s board last week and ordered Velasquez to repay nearly $1 million to the organization. He has not been officially charged with any wrongdoing.
The Puerto Rican Day Parade is one of the most popular parades in NYC. It began in 1958 and is a great source of pride for the nearly 800,000 Puerto Ricans that live in New York.