- Last Updated: 7:29 AM, June 17, 2012
- Posted: 12:26 AM, June 17, 2012
INSIDE CITY HALL
A nonprofit funded with hundreds of thousands of dollars secured by state Sen. Adriano Espaillat through legislative “member items” quietly wound down last year and threw its four paid staffers out of work.
But it didn’t take long for executive director Nurys de Oleo to land a new job.
She became a special assistant to Espaillat and is pulling down $50,000 a year.
Nine months after she was hired, de Oleo contributed $2,000 to Espaillat’s congressional campaign.
Espaillat is challenging veteran Rep. Charles Rangel in the Democratic primary, and political insiders give him a good chance of capturing the seat.
The Post first reported on the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Economic Development in 2010, when it was still offering services, from computer training to immigration advice, to needy residents of Washington Heights.
Some of those services were provided by people with close ties to Espaillat. His sister-in-law was listed as a $20,000-a-year child-care training coordinator. The local Democratic district leader had an eight-year gig as a $10-an-hour “community- outreach coordinator.” A one-time Espaillat campaign worker became coordinator of a two-year program leading school kids on museum trips.
But the funding dried up when Albany cracked down on member items. As a Democrat in the GOP-controlled Senate, Espaillat could no longer deliver the grants that had largely kept the group afloat since 1997.
Elbagina Bonilla, who had served as deputy director, has been working as an unpaid volunteer for months so that students in English-as-a-second-language classes wouldn’t be left to fend for themselves. The classes are funded by a separate nonprofit.
“The organization is still open,” she insisted, bravely. “I do what I can when I can.”
The group’s offices closed last October, and the phones have been disconnected.
Records show NMCED ran a $57,738 deficit on a budget of $285,126 for the year ending March 30, 2010. That was its last filing with the state attorney general, who could penalize the group if it doesn’t file a return for 2011 soon.
Ibrahim Khan, a spokesman for Espaillat, called de Oleo’s hiring routine.
“Adriano was sworn into the Senate in 2011,” said Khan. “He built his staff from scratch.”
De Oleo had served as Espaillat’s chief of staff in Espaillat’s previous stint as an assemblyman.
Espaillat’s campaign headquarters is at 210 Sherman Ave., Suite B — the same address listed by NMCED for its upper Manhattan satellite.
Khan said the campaign office is “absolutely” not the one that formerly housed the nonprofit. He blamed a labeling issue for the confusion and said Assemblyman Guillermo Linares — who is running for Espaillat’s Senate seat — actually has his district office in the old NMCED space.