A former Louisiana Democratic official says Katrina victims "never got a dime'' from a charity set up by two New York politicians.The charity, New Yorkers Organized to Assist Hurricane Families (NOAH-F), claims that it raised $31,000 and that it disbursed nearly $1,400 for hurricane relief. It claims that it sought to help 30 families who were displaced by the hurricane.
Louis Rainey served as an unpaid adviser for the project. He lost his own home in the hurricane and now lives in Dallas.
Meeks and state Sen. Malcolm Smith, also a Queens Democrat, established NOAH-F shortly after the storm to help 30 displaced families -- and made the new charity part of their previously organized New Direction Local Development Corp.Rainey can recall only one tractor-trailer shipment of used clothes in connection with NOAH-F. Even if managed that paltry sum, it is an astoundingly bad track record because it appears that most of the money went to pay for administrative costs. It's the kind of charity that Attorneys General and prosecutors around the nation would investigate, shut down, and/or prosecute for fraud. Scam artists around the country are continuing to try and cash in on the goodwill and charity of others.
At the time, Meeks told the Times-Ledger, a Queens weekly, "Every dime, every dime, will go to these 30 families."
Rainey was chosen to ensure the assistance went where it was needed most, Meeks said.
"It's important to have Mr. Rainey on the ground because you have people trying to take advantage of the situation," Meeks told the weekly.
Rainey, an unpaid adviser, said he gave Meeks' then-director of communications, Candace Sandy, a list of some of the neediest families.
But Rainey said he was not told what kind of assistance they would get -- money, food, shelter -- or whether the help would be distributed through an agency or directly.
At least some of the people he identified, Rainey said, were contacted directly by the fund.
"A few months later, some of the families called and asked about the money," he said.
"They said that Meeks' representatives told them they were going to send down money. That's the first I heard about any money."
It would appear that the scam artists include Gregory Meeks and Malcolm Smith, both of whom refuse comment and both of which appear to have used taxpayer money to line the pockets of someone when they both claimed that the money would go for helping hurricane victims. Prosecutors should have a field day with this.