DA: Woman Pocketed $3K In Donations
She said she was raising the money to help a Huntington teen with cerebral palsy buy a wheelchair-accessible van. But the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office alleges East Northport’s Maureen Myles reneged on her promises and pocketed thousands of dollars of proceeds instead.
Myles, 61, is accused by the DA’s office of grand larceny and first-degree scheming to defraud the public through what they described as a deceptive fundraising appeal in mid-2011. She turned herself in at the DA’s office the morning of Dec. 4. She was convicted on similar charges in 2004, according to court records.
Myles is the executive director of the Trinity Program, a not-for-profit organization with a mission of helping those with disabilities find employment or acquire other skills that would allow them to live independently, the DA’s office said.
But officials allege Myles was the one who cashed in on the public’s generosity. Myles is accused of collecting money between March 14 and Aug. 1, 2011, claiming the funds would be used to buy a then 15-year-old Huntington teen, the son of a Trinity Program part-time worker who has cerebral palsy, a wheelchair-accessible van.
Much of that money was collected during the foundation’s $100-a-plate Drive for Love fundraiser, held March 17, 2011 at Nocello’s Ristorante in Northport. A volunteer who spoke to the DA’s office said the event could have netted up to $20,000. However, the DA’s office alleges Myles pocketed at least $3,000 of the cash.
Myles is said to have paid for wheelchair tie-down straps and other costs on a used van the family bought in the meantime. However, authorities also allege that Myles was defensive when volunteers – and the beneficiary – asked her about the fundraiser.
When the teen’s mother asked about proceeds and buying the new van several months after the Nocello’s event, Myles and the woman “had a falling out,” authorities said. The cerebral palsy patient’s mother told the DA’s office that when several volunteers asked her about the success of the fundraiser, Myles snapped back that it was “none of their business.”
Myles’ attorney, Huntington-based Pierre Bazile, said she “maintains her innocence.”
“We intend to try the case in the courts and not the press,” he said Tuesday.
Myles was released on her own recognizance and is due back in First District Court Feb. 10.