Housing money paid for politicians’ trips, says complaint
Taxpayer funds intended for two low-income housing projects in Mott Haven paid for trips to Puerto Rico for Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo and her mother Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo, according to a federal criminal complaint charging the assemblywoman’s grandson with embezzlement.
Richard Izquierdo Arroyo and Margarita Villegas stole $200,000 from the non-profit SBCC Management Corp., which manages the Judge Gilbert Ramirez Building at 455 E. 138th Street and the Carmen Parsons Building at 441 E. 155th Street, the complaint, unsealed on June 10, charges.
Izquierdo Arroyo is the president of SBCC and Villegas is its director. They used the company’s American Express card to pay for $15,000 in clothing at stores ranging from Macy’s and Promgirl to Coach and Polo Ralph Lauren, according to prosecutors, and charged $66,000 for restaurant meals. Trips to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic accounted for another $80,000.
Included in those travel expenses was the airfare for the assemblywoman and the councilwoman, who is Izquierdo Arroyo’s aunt, the complaint charges. It says Izquierdo Arroyo also paid nearly $4,000 to install a new floor in the assemblywoman’s office and drew on SBCC checking accounts to make more than $13,000 in campaign contributions to the assemblywoman.
SBCC is affiliated with South Bronx Community Corp., a nonprofit that shares an address with the Parsons Building. Maria del Carmen Arroyo headed the organization before her election to the city council, and it employed Izquierdo Arroyo and Iris Arroyo, the councilwoman’s sister. Last year, the Daily News reported that the councilwoman and her mother the assemblywoman had sponsored a total of $242,000 in city and state funds for the South Bronx Community Corp.
Neither elected official has been charged with breaking the law. Izquierdo Arroyo and Villegas pleaded not guilty and are free on $200,000 bail.