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Legislator Barnhart Calls Out Senator Cooney

Monroe County Legislator Rachel Barnhart, NYS Senator Jeremy Cooney

Monroe County Legislator Rachel Barnhart called out Senator Jeremy Cooney regarding a grant awarded to two local nonprofits. 

Barnhart expressed concerns about the lack of documentation regarding the nonprofit status of the entities receiving a grant, particularly about a barbershop that Cooney did not mention in the letter of support. 

In July of 2023, Senator Jeremy Cooney released a statement supporting the purchase of 1274 Dewey Ave, a property that has come under scrutiny due to its connection to Devon Reynolds, the owner of a barbershop located at the site and former employee of the embattled Community Resource Collaborative (CRC). 

Barnhart tweeted, "The night I heard about this ARPA scandal, I found CRC's purchase of the building in 2 min. And within 10 min understood it was improper because Reynolds operates a for-profit barbershop there & the food pantry was a for-profit (still has no EIN per IRS) until the week of the purchase when it registered as a nonprofit (AFTER this was written). 

Barnhart continues, "So I don't understand how a state senator's office doesn't spend the 10 min I did vetting stuff like a $200,000 grant." Barnhart added an image of the letter, viewable below. 

In response to Barnhart's concerns, Senator Cooney highlighted the positive impact of the grant on local nonprofits serving Northwest families.

"Legislator, I appreciate you raising this concern but want to provide the full picture," Cooney tweeted. "First, no state dollars have or will be distributed to CRC for this project. Last year, we awarded a reimbursable grant to two local nonprofits to expand and serve more NW families (1/2)"

"in this building. These nonprofits serve the community with a food pantry and through child crisis initiatives, each listed CRC as a fiduciary. We froze the grant process immediately upon the launch of the county’s investigation, and it will not proceed with the CRC listed. (2/2)"

Although Cooney tweeted, "no state dollars have or will be distributed to CRC for this project" the property was purchased by CRC in August of 2023 and gifted to Reynolds. 

But Cooney's office noted that the money they received was from the county but "due to the recent investigations the grant process has been frozen."

CRC became the subject of an investigation after the county received an email regarding financial mismanagement. In response to the allegations, CRC's bank accounts were frozen and an independent forensic review was conducted by EFPR Group.

The authorities performed a forensic review, briefing legislative caucuses, and sharing information with law enforcement partners. 

EFPR Group concluded that CRC received $1,067,971.67 in reimbursement from the County for distribution to NCP partners. Those partners properly received $750,514.65 in reimbursement but are owed $243,907.02. At this time, CRC is allegedly insolvent and does not have the money to pay back its outstanding obligations.

The review also discovered that CRC commingled multiple funding streams in the same bank accounts – money from the ARPA grant along with funds from nearly $1 million in other grants, as well as loans and lines of credit. CRC did not track which funds came from the appropriate source. In addition, CRC overpaid itself $23,779 in administrative fees it was not entitled to.

It is unclear as to which funds were used to purchase 1274 Dewey Ave. Public officials have a responsibility to ensure that taxpayers' money is used effectively and ethically.


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