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Real Estate Fraudster Caught in Rockland County Affordable Housing Scam; RCC Receives $210,000 To Develop Financial Coaching Program; Briefs

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Real Estate Fraudster Caught in Rockland County Affordable Housing Scam

A property owner and manager will pay for their roles in a real estate scam in Rockland County, according to the New York State Attorney General.

Russell Mainardi, a property manager at  18-36 Columbus Avenue in Spring Valley, agreed to banishment from the real estate business in New York for milking an affordable co-op for personal benefit and putting it on the verge of foreclosure.

spring valley scandalAttorney General Leticia James announced the agreement last week following a two-year investigation revealing an affordable housing cooperative development in Spring Valley was in danger of foreclosure due to illegal misuse of co-op funds by Mainardi and his girlfriend, who was acting as a property manager for the co-op.

According to the investigation, Mainardi in 2014 convinced the former board president to hire him to assist the Columbus Avenue co-op with its finances but charged inflated rates. Investigators say Mainardi lied about his experience and background, having never worked with a low-income co-op and hid a felony conviction for mortgage fraud and tax evasion. He then recruited his girlfriend into a position as a “no-show” property manager, double billing the co-op for the same management tasks allegedly performed by both of their entities. Mainardi also set up the board president so that he was paid a salary as the superintendent and did not have to pay any maintenance for his co-op unit, in violation of the co-op board rules.

Under an agreement with the state, Mainardi and his collaborators were ordered to pay $148,681 in restitution to the co-op and $250,000 in penalties. The agreement also requires Mainardi to vacate $696,647 in liens he had improperly placed against the property. It also forces his girlfriend to resign as property manager and permanently bans Mainardi from real estate development or financing activity in existing residential properties in New York.

RCC Receives $210,000 To Develop Financial Coaching Program

Rockland Community College has been selected one of three schools to receive $210,000 to develop and launch a financial coaching program to improve students’ financial health and increase their graduation rates.

The program from the National Council for Workforce Education, developed with Westchester Community College, is expanding nationally through a $2.5 million investment from JPMorgan Chase.

Many young adults lack the knowledge, skills, and behavioral tools to manage the complexities of 21st-century money management and personal finance, officials said. Coaching can help overcome gender and racial equity wealth gaps and help “workforce education learners” overcome barriers to financial security, said Executive Director Darlene G. Miller of the NCWE.

RCC was chosen through a competitive process; Fulton-Montgomery Community College in Johnstown, New York and Mott Community College in Flint, Michigan will also receive $210,000.

Using the financial coaching program launched by Westchester Community College in 2014, NCWE will provide Rockland Community College with individualized coaching and technical assistance; training, guidance, and support needed to hire staff; and assistance in building a successful, sustainable program.

The NCWE Team will assist Rockland Community College in developing a long-term business plan to embed financial wellness into their strategic and budget plans, to support the sustainability of the initiative.

O&R Donates $5,000 To Catholic Charities Food Bank

Orange and Rockland Utilities has donated $5,000 to Catholic Charities Community Services of Rockland (CCCSR) for its food bank program. O&R supports numerous nonprofit organizations across its service territory in New York and New Jersey by offering cash grants, employee volunteers and more.

“With inflation taking an increasingly bigger bite out of peoples’ paychecks, we are seeing an uptick in the numbers of households we serve who rely on us to continue to feed their families,” says Dan Eudene, Executive Director of CCCSR. “Every dollar donated provides four meals to a needy family, so we are grateful to O&R for their ongoing generosity which helps immensely in our mission of helping our neighbors.”

The CCCSR Food Pantry is located adjacent to its offices at 78 Hudson Avenue in Haverstraw, New York. No one is ever turned away from receiving food for any reason; to register, call (845) 942-5791 during office hours. In addition to food, program participants learn about the benefits of using fresh ingredients from the bounty harvested from the “Garden of Love.”

“We’re committed to supporting activities and enhancing the vitality of the communities we serve,” says O & R spokesperson Linda Feger.