Frmr. Teachers’ Aide President Charged with Theft in NY Court

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer today announced that a Monroe County woman has been indicted for theft and mismanagement of union funds while she served as president of a union local representing teachers’ aides.  Linda Nash, 46, of Rochester, was charged with Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class “C” felony; two counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class “D” felony; two counts of Failure to File a Return or Report, a violation of the Tax Law; and one count each of Failure in Fiduciary Obligations and Failure in Financial and Accounting Duties, both violations of the Labor Law. Nash pleaded not-guilty and is next scheduled to appear in court on July 25.

The indictment was the result of an ongoing investigation by the Office of the Attorney General and the New York State Department of Labor into the Rochester Association of Paraprofessionals (RAP), an 800-member union representing teachers’ aides in the Rochester City School District.  “Teachers’ aides fulfill a vital function in our schools,” Spitzer said. “RAP is supposed to be a strong advocate for the aides and for the students. The indictment makes clear Linda Nash abused her position and authority to enrich herself at the expense of those she was elected to serve.”

From May 1999 to September 2002, Nash was granted release time from the City School District. This benefit provided Nash with her full-time annual salary, while allowing her to perform her duties as RAP President on a full-time basis. Her salary during this period was $29,569.  The indictment alleges that during that period, Nash improperly paid herself more than $170,000 in additional salary, receiving unauthorized travel reimbursements, and failed to provide yearly financial statements to the union’s general membership, all in violation of her duties as president of the Association. Additionally, she stole payroll checks from another union officer, and failed to file New York State income tax returns for the years 2000 and 2001.

In August 2002, a State Supreme Court Judge removed Nash and two other officers of the union following a civil action brought by the Attorney General alleging the receipt of unauthorized stipends and other financial misconduct. Nash was removed from office and the union was placed in temporary stewardship. All charges in the case are to be considered allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Cydney A. Kelly of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau and Assistant Attorney General Richard Balletta of the Labor Bureau. Also participating in the investigation were Fiscal Auditor Manager Philip B. Wagner of the Department of Labor Rochester Office and Senior Investigator Christopher Holland of the Attorney General’s Rochester Office. [Attny. General, NY, 6/10/03]