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AG: PYHIT Executive Steals $1M in State Money
SCHENECTADY -- The attorney general's office is accusing a top administrator with ties to the Peter Young Housing, Industry and Treatment foundation of misappropriating more than a million dollars in taxpayer money, among other crimes.
The foundation-- also known as PYHIT-- helps former convicts and drug addicts get back on their feet with grants and other state money.
This investigation is not the first time the organization has come under fire. 57-year-old Jacquelyn Gentile is the fifth person with ties to PYHIT to be arrested in recent years.
Gentile faced a judge Wednesday at Schenectady County Court on 15 charges including First Degree Grand Larceny. Gentile's Defense Attorney Andrew Safranko says the accusations are grossly overstated.
"The attorney general in open court said today Ms. Gentile did not take one penny. So the Grand Larceny charge is way inflated," Safranko said.
Gentile is also facing charges for falsifying business records including allegedly lying about the hours the father of former Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. worked at the 820 River Street, Inc. location.
"They've had a 20-month investigation, this investigation has been political from the get-go," Safranko said.
Meanwhile, the attorney general's office is convinced they have enough evidence to convict Gentile especially after four other current and former PYHIT employees pleaded guilty to similar crimes.
Still, Father Peter Young-- who has led the PYHIT organization for more than half a century-- is convinced Gentile did nothing wrong. He says this investigation is only hurting the work PYHIT so badly needs to get done.
"We've put about 2,000 clients out and we've had seven deaths that I know [of] that I've attended due to the heroin and the other kind of complications. [...] people now on the street that were being served," Young said.
Gentile is due back in court October 13th. If convicted she could face more than 25 years behind bars.